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    • DATE: December 3, 2013
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Duke Ihenacho: 'I Have A Chip On My Shoulder'

Posted Sep 1, 2014

Acquired by the Redskins on Sunday, third-year safety Duke Ihenacho is using past experiences to bolster his physicality on both defense and special teams.

Washington Redskins safety Duke Ihenacho – who was claimed off waivers by the team on Sunday – admitted that being waived was one of the most trying experiences of his professional career, but that he’s using it as motivation.  

“Nobody likes being cut,” Ihenacho said on Monday.” "It’s definitely another fire in me. That’s just how it is. Nobody likes being cut, so of course I have a chip on my shoulder.

“I’m a confident kid, but I’m always aware of how the business is. I’m confident, but I’m never satisfied, never comfortable.”

Ihenacho comes to the Redskins off the heels of a season in which he started 17 games for the Denver Broncos, including Super Bowl XLVIII.  

During the 2013 regular season, the former San Jose State Spartan logged 73 tackles, six passes defensed and three forced fumbles.

While he doesn’t know what his role will be quite yet for the Redskins against the Houston Texans on Sunday, Ihenacho said he wants to capitalize on any opportunities given to him.

“Just put me in there and just tell me what to do and I’m good,” he said. “That’s how I feel. I don’t think it takes too much. ‘Here’s your man or here’s your gap, here’s what you do, blitz here and go.’

“That’s all I got to do, and if the coach wants me to do that, then I’m going to do that.”

Head coach Jay Gruden said he likes the third-year veteran’s mix of experience and physicality, and was excited when he received news that the team had officially acquired a player that can contribute right away.

"I think he brings some experience to the table,” Gruden said. “He started a lot of games last year for Denver. He's a tough guy and became available.

“We saw that he was there, we put a claim into him because of the experience level and special teams experience. We thought he could be an immediate help for us and [we’re] luckily we got him."

With the Redskins' first regular season game only six days away, Ihenacho said his No. 1 priority this week is to study the playbook as much as possible.

“All I got to do is get in the playbook,” he said. “Special teams is pretty easy as far as the play, especially kickoff, [as] you run down there and hit somebody. I feel like I’m going to go to the coaches and try to learn as much as I can, soak up as much knowledge as I can.

“If I’m ready to play, then I’ll feel confident to play.”

He continued by saying that drilling down the differences in terminology between Jack Del Rio’s defense in Denver and Jim Haslett’s here in Washington will be important in the coming days.

“[It’s] different terminology, but between high school, college and NFL, it’s just being around different defensive back coaches,” he said. “It’s just like any other defense. You just got to hear it enough, get some reps at it, mess up a couple [of times], and then learn from your mistakes.”  

Along with getting into the playbook, Ihenacho said he’s going to lean on some of his teammates, like fellow safety Ryan Clark, for guidance.

“I always look to Ryan Clark,” he explained. “Before I came here, we had film on the Steelers and I always looked up to him, mostly because he’s a leader and everybody responded to him well. He made everybody better and everybody could talk to him and he’s just a good leader.

“He didn’t get a lot of publicity like other top-notch safeties, but he’s always been a guy I’ve always really looked up to.”

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