In desperate need of help in their secondary following the two-game suspension of starting strong safety Brandon Meriweather, the Redskins claimed Duke Ihenacho off waivers from Denver on Sunday, adding a player who could serve as valuable insurance for the team throughout the season.
The 6-foot-1, 207-pound Ihenacho, entering his third season, could replace Bacarri Rambo as the starter when the Redskins open play Sept. 7 at Houston. And, considering Meriweather has not played all 16 games in his previous two seasons with the Redskins — missing time in each because of injury — Ihenacho could see significant time as a reserve once Meriweather is reinstated.
Ihenacho, 25, started 14 regular-season games and all three playoff games at strong safety for the Broncos last year. He had three tackles in Denver’s Week 8 home victory over the Redskins, and he had nine tackles in the Super Bowl XLVIII loss to Seattle. All told, he had 73 tackles last season, deflected six passes and forced three fumbles.
To make room for Ihenacho on the Redskins’ initial 53-man roster, they waived strong safety Akeem Davis a day after the undrafted rookie made the team. Davis, according to an ESPN.com report, had been told by Washington on Sunday that it would be interested in adding him to its practice squad should he clear waivers on Monday.
The eight players who joined the Redskins’ practice squad were all in training camp with the team and were cut Saturday when rosters were finalized. Cornerback Richard Crawford, strong safety Phillip Thomas and running back Chris Thompson were among those who cleared waivers and joined the unit, while wide receiver Nick Williams, cornerback Chase Minnifield, center Tevita Stevens, nose tackle Robert Thomas and tight end Ted Bolser, a seventh-round draft pick of the team in May, also signed.
Perhaps as noteworthy as who signed was who didn’t: Lache Seastrunk, the running back drafted by the Redskins in the sixth round. Seastrunk was not among those who had reached an agreement with the Redskins on Sunday afternoon — yet he also was not among those who had signed with another team’s practice squad.
It’s possible that Seastrunk could have been weighing offers from multiple teams before he and his agent decided upon a destination. With the Redskins keeping only three running backs on their initial 53-man roster on Saturday — undrafted rookie Silas Redd won the competition for a spot behind Alfred Morris and Roy Helu — Seastrunk may decide that another team that has a greater need at running back may be a better fit.
Redd, who had a preseason-high 157 rushing yards, including 79 in the 24-10 victory at Tampa Bay on Thursday, will likely begin the season playing exclusively on special teams. Running back Evan Royster, the Chantilly, Virginia, native who was beginning his fourth season with the Redskins, was among the 18 players gradually cut by the team over Friday and Saturday.
Washington chose to keep Kai Forbath, its kicker for the better part of the past two seasons, over Zach Hocker, a seventh-round draft pick. Rounding out the roster were a pair of defensive ends, Clifton Geathers and Frank Kearse, and outside linebacker Gabe Miller, who finished last season with the Redskins as a practice squad tight end and beat out journeyman Everette Brown.
Washington avoided making more significant cuts by adding four players to reserve lists. Nose tackle Chris Neild, who tore the ACL in his right knee on Thursday, and inside linebacker Darryl Sharpton, who has been battling a high right ankle sprain, were placed on injured reserve, ending their seasons.
Wide receiver Leonard Hankerson and defensive end Stephen Bowen were also kept on the physically-unable-to-perform list, meaning they will be unable to return from their respective knee surgeries until at least Week 6.