When the NFL announced a two-game suspension for Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather, Washington coaches knew they had to make an important adjustment. The Redskins defense had looked strong much of the preseason, but without Meriweather to open the season, Bacarri Rambo was thrust into a starting role. In just his second year, Rambo has improved from an uneven rookie season, but still starting Rambo brought questions.
And then, NFL cuts were made. The Redskins knew they'd want to watch the waiver wire for useful secondary players, and Denver delivered in releasing Duke Ihenacho. The third-year safety out of San Jose State started 14 games last season for Denver, making 67 tackles and forcing three fumbles. Ihancho is known as a hard-hitter and was a key member of the Broncos playoff run that coincided in a Super Bowl loss.
"He started a lot of games last year for Denver. He's a tough guy," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said of Ihenacho. "We thought he could be an immediate help for us and luckily we got him."
When the Broncos signed T.J. Ward away from Cleveland this offseason to a four-year, $22.5 million contract, it appeared Ihenacho could become the odd man out of the Denver secondary. The Broncos also added cornerback Aqib Talib to boost their secondary.
It's interesting that going into free agency, many connected the Redskins as potential suitors for both Ward and Talib. In the end, the Redskins will end up with the player displaced by Talib and Ward with Denver in Ihenacho.
What Ihenacho's arrival means for Jim Haslett and the Redskins in the short term is still to be determined. Gruden was unclear what to expect from the new arrival.
"I envision him participating in some level, some capacity, we'll see what that is. It's too early to tell," Gruden said. "We have got to get him acclimated to the defense, the calls, see how much he can pick up, see how much he can help Ben [Kotwica] and special teams and go from there. Whether he is activated or not, we'll see."
Adding Ihenacho is a plus for the Redskins secondary, whether or not he is able to play Week 1. Considering Meriweather's repeated pattern of suspensions and the other options, Ihenacho will add depth to a unit that needs it.
What will Ihenacho give the 'Skins? Will he play Week 1? Will he start?
Let us know what you think in the comments.