With the way that the season ended for the Denver Broncos in 2012, it makes sense that the secondary would be a good place for young players to push their way into the starting lineup. That’s exactly what former practice squad player Duke Ihenacho is doing during training camp as he plays his way into the conversation for strong safety. Will he be able to make it stick?
The undrafted second year safety out of San Jose State has been turning heads during training camp. Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio has opened up the competition this offseason to anyone who can fill the position the way he wants it filled and Ihenacho is doing just that.
During the last two practices, Ihenacho has been playing next to safety Rahim Moore with the first team defense. He hasn’t seized control of the job just yet, though, as David Bruton has been mixed in as well with Quentin Jammer taking reps in the dime.
Ihenacho spent most of last season on the practice squad, appearing in only two games for Denver and recording one tackle. He’s been able to work his way into the good graces of Del Rio, however, by being coachable and giving his defensive coach exactly what he is looking for.
Del Rio has said he wants his secondary to play with more “eye discipline” next season, keeping their attention on the receivers and their zones rather than getting caught peeking into the backfield at the quarterback. Ihenacho has been doing that well enough in camp so far to take away reps from some of the more experienced options on the Denver roster.
Getting some fresh faces into the secondary could be just the shake-up this team needs. Far too often in their season-ending loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the secondary seemed out of place as they got beat deep. Ihenacho could be an improvement if he can prove to be more disciplined in his assignments. At the very least, he will push the returning veterans during camp to step up their game.