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As He Faces Free Agency, Duke Ihenacho Understands The Uncertainty

Posted Jan 13, 2017

Coming from a smaller school and entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent, Duke Ihenacho has faced uncertainty before. Now, he's entering free agency following three seasons in Washington.

Coming from a smaller school and entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent, Duke Ihenacho has faced uncertainty before. Now, he's entering free agency following three seasons in Washington.

Duke Ihenacho understands that his future remains uncertain as he enters free agency for the first time since signing on with the Denver Broncos in 2012.

“I’m going to take two weeks off, get my body back to 100 percent, see family, see friends and train, just training,” Ihenacho said earlier this month during exit interviews. “Try to be a better player, and just work on my game outside of football so when it comes time for free agency, or wherever I go, if I’m here, don’t matter, I’ll be ready. That’s my mindset. I don’t really have an idea of what it’s going to be like. I’m not somebody that’s guaranteed money, I’m not somebody who’s going to be a headliner. Regardless of what happens I’ll be ready."

Ihenacho – who was claimed off waivers by the Redskins prior to the 2015 season – was able to stay healthy for the entire 2016 season, tallying the most defensive snaps among the team’s safeties with 636.

While the San Jose State product had his productive moments, he also understands that there’s room for growth and the opportunity to make more game changing plays.

Despite finishing third on the team in tackles (77), Ihenacho did not create any turnovers.

"I wish I could have got my hands on a couple of more balls,” Ihenacho said. “Obviously I’m really critical of myself in meetings. I know I can get better, I know there’s a lot of plays I missed out on that I regret not capitalizing on.

“For the most part I think I did alright and I’m a pretty positive person, pretty optimistic person. I don’t let life, little things get me down. I’m going to be alright, just keep working and keep trying to be a better player and keep progressing.”

Ihenacho was an unexpected inactive for the Redskins’ regular season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers before returning to action in Week 2 against the Dallas Cowboys in a reserve role.

The 27-year-old would start the last eight games of the season, however. It was a rewarding experience for a player that had ended the previous two seasons on Injured Reserve.

"I feel good. The last couple of games, I felt good going out of the game," he said. "I’ve had a little bruise here or there or jammed finger here or there, but not really crazy, nothing that I wouldn’t be able to play the next week with. It’s kind of been like that all year for me. I’ve been blessed and thankful for it because the last two years have been pretty tough for me. So to get out there very game, and just know the way I play, is a blessing. But I feel good right now."

Ihenacho is one of 14 players that were under contract for the Redskins during the 2016 season that is set to become an unrestricted free agent.

Free agency is never easy, as players sometimes have to wait weeks to find out where they’ll be playing, but Ihenacho is ready to compete for playing time whether that be in Washington or not.

“If there are people out there that want me or regardless if there’s nobody that wants me and I’ve got to go find a team, start from the bottom, it’s alright,” Ihenacho said. “I’ve been down this road before. I’ve never been highly recruited, never was highly drafted, I was on practice squad, so the uncertainty, it doesn’t bother me because my whole career has been uncertain. I’m five years in and I’ve got a couple more to go.”

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