Found August 04, 2013 on Fox Sports:
(Eds: With AP Photos.) By PAT GRAHAM AP Sports Writer Around these parts, John Elway is affectionately known as the ''Duke'' for scrambling and slinging his way to a Hall of Fame career. Now, there's another ''Duke'' on the Denver Broncos field and he's quickly creating a name for himself, even if no one can properly pronounce it. Duke Ihenacho (EE-ah-NAHcho) is a strong safety frequently working with the first team at training camp. Although Mike Adams is still listed as the starter, Ihenacho has everyone raving about his play so far in practice. This from a player who was cut by the Broncos last summer before being brought back and spending most of 2012 on the team's practice squad. This from a player who didn't even start playing football until his junior year of high school (on a dare, no less) and didn't exactly come from a BCS powerhouse (San Jose State). He's steadily climbed his way up the depth chart by doing one simple thing - standing out in practice. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Ihenacho will be put to the test in San Francisco on Thursday night in the preseason opener. ''He's worked hard and made plays and earned time to continue, to see if he can continue,'' defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said. ''There is a lot left to do. There's a lot more install to do. We'll just see how it goes. But he's done well so far.'' Quinton Carter is also competing with Adams and Ihenacho for the starting job. ''Right now I'm grateful, but I'm not satisfied. So, I'm just going to keep working,'' the 24-year-old Ihenacho said. ''I'm just trying to be consistent, not making mistakes over and over. If you make plays, eventually, they're going to trust you enough to put you in and give you more opportunities to make more plays. ''It's definitely a progression thing. It never happens overnight.'' Before each practice, Ihenacho puts on his headphones and listens to his brand of motivational music - slow R&B songs. Yep, that's what pumps him up. Then, he goes out and continues to impress. He's picked off quite a few passes in drills this summer. Constantly around the ball, he's consistently drawing praise from teammates: - Pro Bowler Champ Bailey: ''His play has been impressive. He is getting better every day.'' - Nickel DB Chris Harris: ''He's learning the defense and by him learning the defense, he can go out there and play his game.'' - Fellow safety Rahim Moore: ''It's like playing out there with a twin ... His talent is definitely showing every day.'' All part of the benefit of playing with a giant chip on his shoulder pads. Always has, really. Growing up, Ihenacho figured his future was knocking down jumpers on the basketball court, not passes on the football field. It wasn't until gym class his sophomore year that he discovered football. A couple of classmates at his high school in San Mateo, Calif., were teasing him and said he wouldn't be able to handle the contact sport. He took that as a challenge and went out for the football team the following season. By his senior year, Ihenacho was a dual threat, recording 73 tackles on defense and catching 17 passes for 335 yards on offense. That was enough to attract the attention of San Jose State, where he became a three-time All-Western Athletic Conference selection. ''One thing about Duke is that he loves football,'' Moore said. ''He loves making plays.'' And yet no one picked him in the draft. To this day, that irks him. ''But I've always had to prove myself,'' he said with a casual shrug. Brought in by the Broncos in May 2012, he was waived after camp but returned as a member of the practice squad. He was called up to the team and played in two games - even making a special teams tackle at Cincinnati on Nov. 4 - before finishing the season back on the practice squad. ''When things didn't go my way at first, it was kind of just like, `Well, it's not the end of the world. Keep working, keep working,''' Ihenacho said. ''Then, I had guys in my ear supporting me.'' And it's all paying off with more playing time. ''Eventually if you make enough plays and you work hard enough, focus and know your plays, it's going to happen for you,'' Ihenacho said. NOTES: The Broncos released their initial preseason depth chart Sunday and there were no real surprises. Manny Ramirez is listed as the starting center. The recently signed Ryan Lilja is fourth string for now. ... RB Ronnie Hillman is the No. 1 running back heading into the preseason opener, with rookie Montee Ball second string.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RELATED ARTICLES

Peyton Manning, Broncos go sliding across wet field during scrimmage (VIDEO)

YouTube The Broncos treated fans to a “family scrimmage night” Saturday to help introduce the 2013 team.  However, Mother Nature must be a Patriots fan as she didn’t cooperate and caused the game to be delayed by storms.  Once the rain died down, the Broncos turned the Sports Authority Field at Mile High into a giant slip ‘n slide. Even Peyton Manning got into the action...
WORTH A SHOT

Broncos fan runs onto field, tackled by security

In the pouring rain, Sports Authority Field security responded quickly after a fan got on the field and took off running. As they were about to give chase, a young kid also thought it would be a good idea to take to the field. Security conveniently tackled him right at the tunnel entrance. I guess you could say the poor kid inadvertently set up a nice block for the first fan to run...

Report: Joel Dreessen out for remainder of camp

Denver Broncos tight end Joel Dreessen has suffered a setback with his surgically repaired left knee, according to The Denver Post. He'll need a second arthroscopic surgery to clean up the knee, reports USA Today. Dreessen, scheduled to be a starter once the season begins, underwent the first surgery in late May.

Denver Broncos backups: the depth chart

Given the latest events of the last week with the Denver Broncos starting center Dan Koppen getting injured and now with our great potential of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie being somewhat diminished by his high ankle sprain (hopefully he won’t be out more than a month), it would be safe to try and remember that this is a physical game and at any moment Denver’s ideal “all star...

John Fox: Peyton Manning is much further along than he was last season

Last year everyone was wondering how Peyton Manning would play with the Broncos after missing the entire 2011 season as a member of the Colts. Manning ended up having a great season and is much farther along now then he was at this time last year, Broncos head coach John Fox told Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. “Just how much further ahead Peyton is,” said Fox. “A year ago...

Photo: Former Wisconsin RB Montee Ball Gets Ridiculous Haircut As Part Of Rookie Hazing

Montee Ball is busy getting ready for his first NFL season. The former Wisconsin Badger is enjoying his first NFL training camp with the Denver Broncos after being drafted in the second round in April’s draft. Of course, with training camp comes rookie hazing. Ball’s Broncos teammates decided that Ball needed a haircut — here’s a photo posted by Jacob Hester: The Broncos...

Franklin the latest lineman to go down in Denver

Broncos right tackle Orlando Franklin limped off the field early during Monday's practice with an injured hip and did not return. Coach John Fox did not specify which hip and said the severity of the injury wasn't known. Franklin went down on the first play of team drills. While trainers attended to him, the offense and defense changed directions so they could keep practicing...

Broncos' lineman Franklin injures hip

Broncos right tackle Orlando Franklin limped off the field early during Monday's practice with an injured hip and did not return. Coach John Fox did not specify which hip and said the severity of the injury wasn't known. Franklin went down on the first play of team drills. While trainers attended to him, the offense and defense changed directions so they could keep practicing...

Photo: Montee Ball gets new haircut as part of Broncos’ rookie hazing

The Denver Broncos decided it was rookie hazing time, giving Montee Ball a very jacked-up haircut.

Broncos' backup wide receivers battle to earn berths on team

This is about the Broncos' receivers. No not those receivers. Not Demaryius Thomas Eric Decker and Wes Welker. As Peyton Manning works to develop chemistry with newcomer Welker and to become even more in sync with holdovers Thomas and Decker the additional wideout plot line during training camp and the preseason schedule is the fight to make the Denver roster as backups. Trindon...

Broncos looking for starting running back

(Eds: APNewsNow. Will be updated.) By EDDIE PELLS AP National Writer There's the man who isn't big enough, the former first-round draft pick who hasn't lived up to his potential and the record-setting college back brought in to replace them both. Then, there is this question: With Peyton Manning at quarterback, does it really matter who winds up as the featured runner...

Broncos' Joel Dreessen suffers setback to knee

Another starter has suffered a significant injury. Starting tight end Joel Dreessen had a setback in his recovery from kneecap surgery and will be out at least two weeks. The Broncos’ top two tight ends from last year Dreessen and Jacob Tamme didn’t dress for the scrimmage Saturday. Tamme was sidelined last week with a pulled quad. They combined for 93 receptions in 2012.

Report: Joel Dreessen to miss rest of preseason

Hot News for TE Joel Dreessen

2013 Fantasy Football Rankings Analysis Update

We are exactly one month away from the 2013 fantasy football season kicking off in Denver. With NFL training camps well underway and a few players on the shelf for the entire 2013 season, the FOX Sports Fantasy Department has updated its 2013 fantasy football composite rankings. In addition to our overall Top 200 fantasy rankings , we have created position-by-position rankings for...
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.