Described as an "aggressive player" who "hates to be away from the ball," Duke Ihenacho is fully healthy and waiting for his chance to compete again.
Claimed off of waivers by the Redskins just one week before the regular-season opener against the Houston Texans last season, safety Duke Ihenacho barely had the chance to showcase his talents before going down with a season-ending fracture in his left foot.
The Washington Redskins on Sunday acquired third-year veteran safety Duke Ihenacho. Here's a look back at top images from his NFL career.
A frustrating chapter in the young safety's career, Ihenacho said he was cleared about three months ago, but has felt healthy even longer than that.
"I felt healed during the season, so my rehab process was, I was in a boot, I was in a cast for like seven to eight weeks, then I started the rehab process," he told Redskins.com "So I just would come in, do a lot of strengthening and stuff like that while I was in a cast I was still lifting and just doing what I could."
Once the cast was removed, it was "very easy to make that transition" back to football activities.
"Sometime around late-November, I started feeling really good and I was just starting a little jogging and stuff in the bubble," he said. "And after that I just started pushing it a little more ever since. After, I got cleared, I went to L.A. and it was a little different getting on my feet and coordinating, but right now I feel great. I feel great so I feel like rehab has paid off and I'm beyond it now."
Before appearing in three games for the Redskins last season, Iheancho was key member of a Denver Broncos defense that made the Super Bowl two seasons ago.
In 15 regular-season games with 14 starts, the San Jose State product recorded 73 tackles with six passes defensed and three forced fumbles.
Against the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl, Ihenacho recorded a personal playoff-high nine tackles.
For Redskins fans that may have not had a chance to see him do work with the Broncos, Ihenacho is self-described active worker who likes to be around the ball at all times.
"I hate to be away from the ball," he said. "I hate to just sit back and just stay deep. I like to be around the ball and I'm a very aggressive player. I like to take risks sometimes. In the past, I've won more than I've lost. But I'm a very aggressive, instinctive player that just loves to be around the football and I have fun out there and I think it's evident when you see me play that I'm having fun."
Throughout the offseason, it is expected that the safety positon – which was boosted in recent weeks by the signing of Jeron Johnson and the acquisition of two-time Pro Bowler Dashon Goldson via trade – will be one featuring a lot of competition.
Head coach Jay Gruden believes the starting jobs will be won by play on the field during the next few months, and Ihenacho is most certainly in the mix.
"I think we have some people in the building that can compete and hopefully, with another year under their belt and a new system, some guys will rise to the occasion and make some plays — whether it's in our building or maybe we have to go out and get one," he said at the NFL Annual Meetings. "But we have Johnson, we have Duke still, we have Phillip Thomas. We have some guys here —* *Trenton Robinson, obviously; Akeem Davis — we have some safeties here that are going to get a shot at it, get a crack at it. We'll see how they do."