Quick transitions are a fact of life in the NFL, and sudden change is something that newly-signed cornerback Rod Hood is well aware of right now.
"I guess if I got any time to think about what's happened to me recently, my head would spin," Hood said in the Soldier Field locker room Thursday after a 26-23 win over the Browns, the same Browns that cut him just three days before. "And to be playing against your former team, against guys you lined up with just a few days ago, that takes it into a whole other mindset."
Hood joined the Browns as a free agent in May after starting for the NFC champion Arizona Cardinals the past two seasons. The veteran defensive back, who graduated from Auburn, was also with the Philadelphia Eagles from 2003-06.
"I'm not sure that many people in the league knew I was in serious talks with the Bears, as well as with St. Louis, and Detroit." said Hood, referring to his activity during the free-agency period. "In fact, my final decision was between Cleveland and Chicago. I went where I felt I could contribute most at that time, but the fit never felt quite right. Maybe that would have improved over time, but now we'll never know."
After a productive training camp with the Browns, Hood still felt that he would be in contention for a starting job. That plan came to a sudden end when the team cut him Monday. The Chicago front office called early Tuesday morning.
"I went from a definite low to a mental high all within a period of a few hours," he said. "But in actuality, there wasn't much time to think about anything. My agent told me to get my things together and head over to Chicago as fast as I could possibly get there. I packed a suitcase, got in my car and headed west."
Once at Halas Hall, Hood began an accelerated tutorial with the Bears defensive coaching staff.
"It was almost like being back in high school cramming for the SATs," Hood laughed. "I had so much thrown at me in such a short period of time. The fact that the Bears had a game only a day and a half after I arrived in Chicago made things more difficult. But I've always been a pretty good student and some of the plays were familiar from past teams, so I learned as much as I could before kickoff."
Hood knew some of the Bears players but had never lined up on the same side with them before.
"Of course, you lack some of the chemistry and communication with your teammates when you come in that suddenly," he admitted, "but that all develops with time. We tried to understand each other as best we could given the circumstances."
Hood was on the field perhaps more than any other Bears defender in order to give the coaching staff an opportunity to see what he had to offer the team. He came away with seven tackles on the evning.
"I kept thinking, Keep me out there. Let me show what I can do," said Hood.
The 5-11, 198-pounder is by no means a lock for making the team, but with lingering injuries plaguing Chicago's defensive backfield, he could provide some needed stability and depth. He's a physical player known for speed and intelligence. Hood has 218 career tackles, one sack, 11 interceptions and two forced fumbles.
"I think I can contribute here," he said. "I have playoff and Super Bowl experience. My speed is good, and my competitive edge is definitely there. I feel that Chicago's system is a good fit for me and that I can make an impact for the team on the field."
And for Hood, the chance to unpack his bags and settle in for another season in the NFL would be the best of all possible outcomes.
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Beth Gorr has been covering the Chicago Bears for eight years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.
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