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Ihenacho Making Plays with Personality

Posted Jul 31, 2013

Safefty Duke Ihenacho has been catching the attention of his teammates in training camp.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Anyone that has been at Broncos training camp at Dove Valley has probably heard safety Duke Ihenacho. He’s been loud. He’s been active. He’s also been effective.

“His play has been impressive,” cornerback Champ Bailey said. “He is getting better every day. One thing about him is he stayed hungry during the offseason. He had great OTAs and an even better camp. So, I am looking forward to (seeing) him grow a lot more.”

Ihenacho, an undrafted free agent entering his second year with the Broncos, saw time in two games for the club last season after spending part of the year on the practice squad.

In his second training camp, he's been all over the defensive backfield and has come away with a few interceptions as a result.

“He is a guy that we have kept around for a while that is getting more opportunities and so far he has taken advantage of those opportunities," Head Coach John Fox said.

Sunday morning, Ihenacho came up with a pick off the hands of Knowshon Moreno in coverage drills. He then raised the ball in the air and high-stepped through the bystanding Broncos across the goal line and pretended to shoot a free throw through the uprights.

Last week after an interception, he went into the crowd to shake hands with fans. In his second year at Broncos training camp, he’s clearly very comfortable.

“I’m just having fun,” Ihenacho said. “That’s what fun is. Like I said before, I’m more comfortable with myself and more comfortable with the defense so I’m more comfortable interacting with the fans. That just comes with having fun.”

That comfort comes from confidence, something that he said has also been on the rise.

“I think I’m better because of my confidence in myself," he said. “Once you spend a year somewhere, you gradually get more confident in yourself and your teammates get more confident in you. I’m just more comfortable, so when you’re comfortable you have that ability to make more plays and I think that’s what’s happening this year.”

Ihenacho said that he’s been paying close attention to fellow undrafted defenders cornerback Chris Harris and linebacker Wesley Woodyard and trying to learn from them.

Both Harris and Woodyard said Wednesday day that they liked what they had seen so far from Ihenacho – calling him “hungry” and “smart.”

“He’s probably one of the smartest young safeties I’ve seen come in our organization in a while,” Woodyard said. “Duke, he’s just got to continue to stay humble and keep grinding. He makes big plays.”

Whether it’s from his play or his personality, Ihenacho has been hard to miss on the practice field.

“He’s having a great camp and he’s staying focused,” Woodyard said. “The thing about Duke is, he has a big smile. That smile is contagious out there on the field, especially in training camp situations.”