It’s hard to tell who is happier about Rod Hood signing with the Tennessee Titans – Hood or the Titans.]
Signed as a street free agent on Oct. 15, Hood has proven to be a quick study in the Titans defensive scheme, quick enough to be installed as the starting right cornerback last week after less than two weeks in Tennessee.
The Titans are plenty happy that a veteran like Hood was available, once Nick Harper went down with a broken forearm. He was signed on the Thursday before the Titans’ 59-0 drubbing in New England and played a bit role in that game.
During the bye week, the serious crash course began, and Hood was moved into the starting lineup ahead of rookies Jason McCourty and Ryan Mouton.
“I think we’re very fortunate to get a guy that’s got that type of experience as well, who has played on some good defenses and has been to two Super Bowls,” defensive backs coach Marcus Robertson said. “Getting somebody like Hood as our second or third corner, we’re in a good place now at corner, and we don’t have to put those rookies out there before they’re ready.”
Hood is happy on two fronts. Not only is he back in the NFL after enduring being released in Cleveland and Chicago on consecutive days, but has found a job as a starting cornerback once again.
Because of the unusual circumstances with the Browns, Hood said he simply didn't like Cleveland, and never got much chance in Chicago, where he was let go after one day.
“It never had anything to do with talent. I always knew that. It was always about the opportunity, and at that particular time, the opportunity wasn’t in my favor,” Hood said.
Hood started for the NFC champion Arizona Cardinals in the Super Bowl last year, and also played on the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl team in the 2004 season.
Hood had had an impressive workout for the Titans on Sept. 29 after Vincent Fuller broke his forearm, but the Titans needed safety depth more than cornerback depth, and opted to sign Kevin Kaesviharn instead that day.
When the call came for Hood in Tennessee two weeks later, he was ready, and stayed in town during the bye week to get a crash course in the defensive playbook to be ready to start last week against Jacksonville.
“Anytime you go in, most players it takes probably about five or six months to learn the playbook. But I had about one or two weeks,” Hood said. “The guys around here have been doing a great job of helping me understand the terminology they use here. I’m just thankful for the guys around me and the coaches putting in the extra time to get me ready.”
The extra work paid off, as Hood intercepted a David Garrard pass that led to a field goal in the Titans’ first victory of the season.
“We had brought him in, probably a month ago, when we were pulling together our ready list,” Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. “We liked what we saw in the workout, and we did our background due diligence. He was a fine young man, a pro and learns quickly, and we felt like he’d be a good fit.”
Certainly a better fit than the team Hood wound up signing with in the off-season – with the Browns, who appear to be in disarray under Eric Mangini.
And though the Titans have the same number of wins as the Browns, Hood is happy to be away from the situation in Cleveland.
“It had nothing to do with my play at Cleveland. It was one of those things where I really wanted to get out of there, because I didn’t like how things were going, how things were being run there,” Hood said. “I’m just a big guy on character and how things are supposed to be played out, and it wasn’t a good situation for me. It was to a point where football wasn’t even fun for me. It was terrible to me.”
Hood didn’t want to elaborate on specifics, but simply said it was something he’d never experienced before in his seven-year NFL career.
“I don’t want to go into it specifically. The owner is a good guy, and the organization in years past, but now they’ve got some people in there that’s not running it the way it should be,” Hood said. “I’ve never experienced football [like that]. I came from two good organizations in Philly and Arizona, and I’d never seen football handled the way it was when I was there.”
He doesn’t have to worry about that now with the Titans, who appreciate the role he has quickly filled and his approach to the matter.
“One of the things that most impressed me about Rod was that he came in here eager to learn. He played with some good teams in the past. He’s been to two Super Bowls,” Robertson said. “More than anything when you go from team to team, it’s more terminology. But when he came in, he got to work and did a lot of extra stuff, and he’s a true professional. I think that’s one of the reasons he was able to come in and fit in so quickly.”