You might hear Roderick Hood’s name called quite a bit tonight.
The former Carver High School star will be on the hot seat, as usual, today when his Arizona Cardinals visit the Carolina Panthers in the second round of the NFL playoffs.
Hood is the starting cornerback opposite Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the Cardinals’ spectacular rookie.
Offenses have to choose who to throw against, so as “DRC” has risen in stature, Hood sometimes is the guy the Cardinals’ opponents pick on. Not that Hood has been a weak link since coming to the Cardinals two seasons ago.
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Far from it.
After the Cardinals acquired him as a free agent, Hood started as the third cornerback behind Antrel Rolle and Eric Green.
Hood easily pushed past both to be the team’s No. 1 corner last season. (Rolle later was moved to safety, while Green was demoted). He had a terrific year, starting 16 games, intercepting five passes and returning two for touchdowns.
This season, Hood has been solid. He has one interception and has retained his starting status.
But teams have to pick their poison, and Rodgers-Cromartie, a former track star at Tennessee State, can be lethal. He has the hands, leaping ability and speed to turn a pass into an interception, into a touchdown.
So late in the season, quarterbacks seemed to throw more at Hood, sometimes with success.
For example, he gave up a 30-yard touchdown pass against Seattle because, even though he was in position, he didn’t turn his head in time to defend the pass.
But he bounced back with a fine game last week versus Atlanta in the playoffs.
Hood acknowledges that in a couple of late-season games, opponents “made some great throws and catches.
“But for the most part I feel like I’ve played strong.”
Hood doesn’t really think he’s being picked on because, as the guy usually lined up as the left cornerback, he’s usually going to get the most tests from right-handed quarterbacks.
Rick Courtright, the Cardinals’ defensive backs coach, agrees.
“I think he’s been a steady guy for us,” Courtright said. “As always, there are going to be situations where people are going to win some and lose some.
“But overall, He’s done a nice job. As in anything, guys have ups and downs. Rod has shown he’s resilient. He came back and had a real nice game for us last week.”
Head coach Ken Whisenhunt said that the one area Hood needs to keep working on is “maybe finish a little bit better.
“He’s done a very good job of being on the receiver and being close to the ball,” Whisenhunt said. “He’s made some nice plays.”
“Rod understands that because some plays have been made on him, they’re going to take shots on him. But he’s been working hard to finish at practice.”
If that keeps up, and there’s no reason to think it won’t, Hood stands a chance at coming up with his own big plays, Whisenhunt said.
Off the field, Hood is just as solid.
He’s active in offseason charity and community work in Columbus; he frequently speaks at schools and puts on football camps.
In Arizona, he’s a favorite of the sports media; he recently won the Cardinals’ “good guy” award for cooperation with reporters.
So there’s a lot more to the name you may hear called frequently tonight.