JACKSONVILLE – If needed, Ziggy Hood said he's ready.
Not that he's ever unprepared.
And not that he wouldn't have been able to start if needed last season.
But with starting defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks rehabilitating a significant knee injury, Hood – who signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent last offseason – will have an increased role in the offseason that may or may not continue into the season.
And yes, he said, a year in the defense should only help in that situation.
"With a year under my belt, I know what the coaches expect," Hood said Monday while attending the Jaguars Women's Association's Just Among Girlz event at One Ocean Resort and Spa in Atlantic Beach.
"Last year around this time, I didn't know what was going on. I didn't know how the defense was going to be run. I know this offseason what to focus on and polish up on."
Marks, a starter in all 32 games since signing with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent in 2013, sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury in the final game of last regular season. He is rehabilitating the injury with the idea of being ready for the season.
Whatever Marks' status for the opener, he isn't expected to participate in the offseason program. Hood likely will work more with the starters throughout the offseason and training camp.
"You never know when your number's going to be called," Hood said. "I'll take this opportunity to get more reps under my belt and really just get more familiar with the defense. When the season comes, whoever gets hurt and whoever goes down with something, the next guy up needs to be ready to play and play at a high caliber."
Hood last season played a key role as a reserve on a deep defensive line that finished sixth in the NFL with 45 sacks.
Hood, a first-round selection by Pittsburgh in the 2009 NFL Draft, played 422 snaps – sixth among Jaguars defensive linemen – and registered 24 tackles and a sack. He shared snaps with Marks and also played a role as a backup along the front in other situations.
The Jaguars retained much of that defensive front, releasing starting strong-side defensive end Red Bryant shortly before free agency and signing Jared Odrick from the Miami Dolphins as an unrestricted free agent early in the unrestricted free-agency period.
"Last year, guys got close," Hood said. "This year, guys are going to be even closer. I've had the chance to be with this team for a year. We grew as a defensive line. This year, we kept all of our guys except for Big Red (Bryant). We're going to get even more familiar with each other and grow closer as a team. When guys come back healthier and stay healthy, this defensive line is going to do great things in the year to come."
Hood said the moves made in the offseason – not only signing Odrick, but also outside linebacker Dan Skuta, safety Sergio Brown and cornerback Davon House – were "the right choices and the right decisions as far as moving in the right path for this team.
"(Jaguars General Manager) Dave (Caldwell) brought in some big-name guys to try to make this team better," he said. "This organization is taking a turn for the better."