When Rod Hood came to the Tennessee Titans in October, he played more like Robin Hood, robbing opposing quarterbacks with interceptions in his first three starts and giving the downtrodden Titans a much needed boost on defense.
But once Nick Harper returned from a broken forearm in late November, it was back to the bench for Hood, who did not return to the lineup until Harper was shut down for the season finale because the forearm kept getting aggravated from contact.
So now, Hood is left to ponder his future once again, just as he had to after being a cap cut by the Arizona Cardinals this past off-season and being dropped by both Cleveland and Chicago in preseason this year.
All the traveling around and being deactivated hasn’t shaken Hood’s confidence in himself.
“I’ve been a starter in this league. It’s kind of funny to me. I’ve been a starter in this league pretty much ever since I got here,” Hood said. “I went to the Super Bowl, played in the Super Bowl. If you look at my stats, they match up pretty much against anybody.
"You know what I’m saying. It’s unfortunate that people think I’m not supposed to be here, but I make a case every time I step on the field that I belong in this league as a formidable starter.”
Hood had interceptions in three straight games as a Titan, including returning one 31 yards for a touchdown against Buffalo. But after that, it was back to the bench as the 35-year-old Harper reclaimed his starting job.
It would appear that Harper, also a free agent, won’t be re-signed to start opposite Cortland Finnegan. The question now becomes, will Hood be retained to compete for the other starting cornerback role. Or will the Titans give ’09 rookies Jason McCourty or Ryan Mouton the chance, or go a completely different direction in free agency or the draft.
For his part, Hood would like to return to Tennessee and pick up where he left off. Despite missing a couple of tackles in the finale against the Seahawks, he was pleased overall with his performance and likes the potential of the Titans for 2010.
“It ended pretty well. I was a little rusty, but we got a win and I think I played OK. I talked to the coaches, just about the season, and if the opportunity presents itself to be here, I think it’s a good opportunity for me,” Hood said. “I know that this team is on the rise, and it’s a good situation, because I know the coaches and know the players here, and I feel comfortable here.”
Hood said he hasn’t gotten a read yet on how much the Titans value him as a cornerback, but hopes to find out over the next couple of weeks.
“I can’t speak on behalf of this organization. It’s a two-sided thing. I can’t speak on where they see me at as a player. That has a lot to do with it as well,” he said. “It’s a good team, a good coaching staff and good players. If the opportunity presented itself, I would [come back]. I would like to be here.
“For me, yeah, wherever I go, I feel like I belong there. But that’s for them to decide and I just continue to keep playing and every opportunity I get, I try to make the best of it.”
Finnegan said he was impressed with how Hood played in a fill-in role this season.
“I think when Rod was called on, he performed well. He performed real well. He was a solid guy,” Finnegan said. “To be inactive for five or six games and then ask the guy to play the last game was tough on him. But I thought he did well, and we’ll see what happens next year.”
As for Harper’s situation, Finnegan is in wait-and-see mode there as well to find out who will play on the other cornerback spot next year.
“He was solid at what he did. Sometimes people on the outside say what they want to, but he was a solid contributor, and I learned a lot from him,” Finnegan said of Harper. “There’s always a business side to everything, so we’ll just see.”
A sentiment that could apply to Hood’s situation as well.