Cornerback Josh Norman, left, jokes with defensive end Ziggy Hood during the afternoon practice on Aug. 2. (Steve Helber/Associated Press)

RICHMOND — As Coach Jay Gruden predicted back in May following free agency, new Washington Redskin Ziggy Hood has been making a mark. In training camp, the eighth-year defensive end has been taking first-team repetitions, although he’s slotted as the third-string right defensive end behind Chris Baker and Stephen Paea on the newest unofficial depth chart.

Hood began his NFL career as the Steelers’ first-round draft pick out of Missouri in 2009. He played his first five seasons with Pittsburgh, seeing action in every game. In 2012, he started all 16. When his contract wasn’t renewed, he went to the Jacksonville Jaguars for the 2014 season and part of the 2015 season. But his 2015 season didn’t go exactly as planned. He was limited to only two games after suffering a foot injury. He spent over a month on the injured reserve while on the Jaguars roster and was inactive for four games after being picked up by the Chicago Bears.

“The injury was a minor setback, but I wasn’t going to let it slow me down,” Hood said. “I consider myself a hard worker. I stay hard working and I’m just ready for the opportunity to get out there and go play.”

Bouncing back from an injury that late in a career can be difficult. Hood realizes that there could be challenges.

“You can’t prevent every injury,” Hood said. “Sometimes it’s a freak accident … My time is downhill from here. When you’re a fresh young guy coming out, you got time to heal up. You got plenty of time to do different things. But when you’re an older guy, your window of opportunity is kinda tight. You really don’t wanna do anything to jeopardize your career.”

And for Hood, getting a fresh start with the Redskins is helping.

“It can be a little bit different,” Hood said of switching teams. “It’s all how you take it. If you take it with a grain of salt and go out there and have fun, what it boils down to is football. You love to play football and take whatever opportunity you can get. … I’m still here. I’m still employed so far. And that’s a good thing.”

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