At 31 years old, Ziggy Hood has gone through some wear and tear over the course of his NFL career. To prepare for what’s to come, he altered some of his offseason approach.
Despite being the oldest defensive lineman on the Washington Redskins’ 90-man roster by more than two years, Ziggy Hood is still the hardest working player of that group.
Hood took an offseason approach few would ever think about taking on and only a handful would actually execute: he would work out at length, sometimes as much as six hours in one day.
“It wasn’t anybody’s idea but mine,” Hood said. “Like I said, I put in work, and that’s what I tend to do, and I stay at it.”
Now entering his ninth season in the NFL and second with the Redskins, Hood knows that he has to keep his body in peak form.
The Missouri product appeared on 661 defensive snaps last season, eighth most among returning defensive player and the most among returning defensive linemen.
Hood said he incorporated a fair among of cardio into his workout routine including some swimming, which kept his heart rate up.
“I just try to stay active,” Hood said. “Your knees, your hips, I mean, some of the small stuff [to stay healthy]. I mean, especially when half of the one side of your body tends to be weaker than others so… The knees tend to go too.”
Hood also altered his diet some, too, trying to limit his carbohydrate intake and cut out eating candy.
“Instead of reaching for that candy at the movie theater, I’m just going to get the popcorn and walk away from it,” Hood said with a smile. “Sour Patch straws, or something like that, yeah, I love those. I’ve got to cut back.”
Hood was signed to a Reserve/Future contract last offseason following a 2015 season in which he was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars following injuries that sidelined him. Then he would sign with the Chicago Bears late in the season, but was once again released after just two games.
Hood was “one of the brightest spots” for the Redskins during training camp last year and the veteran turned that into a solid rebound season, appearing in all 16 regular season games with 33 tackles, three passes defensed, one sack and one fumble forced.
“[What] some parts of the teams don’t measure is how much heart you’ve got,” Hood said when asked about his return to form. “They can tell you how fast, how much you lift, or tell you how far you can jump, but one thing they can’t measure is your heart. And then some guys fall by the wayside when it comes to that and others exceed. So I mean, I knew it was just another hurdle and challenge to me and I got over it.”
With the offseason departures of Chris Baker and Ricky Jean Francois, it will be Hood who is the on-field leader of a rebuilt defensive line that now includes free agent additions Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee along with first-round pick Jonathan Allen.
“He’s a great leader for that defensive line room,” said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. “I think guys follow him and you see the progress of all of the defensive linemen in the strength room and it starts with Ziggy. He’s the guy who works the hardest. We’re happy to have him. He’s a great leader for us.”