The safety fractured his left wrist in last year's season opener, but he returned to game action Thursday without wearing a brace on it.
Redskins safety Duke Ihenacho said he was still thinking about his left wrist, which he broke in last year's season opener, during the Redskins' first preseason game against the Falcons Thursday night.
Check out the top photos from the Washington Redskins' 2016 Preseason Week 1 matchup against the Atlanta Falcons Aug. 11, 2016, at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
But, even though he had worn a wrist brace throughout training camp, Ihenacho decided against wearing it prior to the game, instead choosing to wrap it in tape.
"I was just like, 'I'm not wearing it,' because I felt good going into the game and I still feel good, so it lets me know if I'm not wearing it I'll be fine," Ihenacho said.
Playing in a backup role, Ihenacho looked good, too, playing decisively in the box and trying to rip balls away from defenders in piles, unfazed by lingering thoughts about his injury. Participating in game action for the first time in nearly a year, Ihenacho collected four tackles, second most on the team, during the team's 23-17 loss to Atlanta.
"I feel like I'm a playmaker, I feel like I can do whatever," Ihenacho said about his role. "Last year and this year I've felt the greatest I've ever felt physically in my life, where I could cover. In these preseason games at least, you get a lot of underneath stuff, a lot of runs and safe stuff, so that's easy stuff. If I see it I'm gonna go. When I'm back, you do your job and you throw the ball."
Ihenacho knows that there is more rust to shake off. He was unhappy with some of his play Thursday, specifically on special teams during punt coverages that he wasn't used to.
Still, after waiting and wondering how his wrist might fare, Thursday marked an important step in his return.
"It's a learning experience," Ihenacho said. "That's just how it is. No matter how much you practice, you can't simulate the speed, the physicality of games, the game plan, the tendencies, no matter how much you practice it's not the same, so it's like the preseason game is like a scrimmage for us. We haven't even had a scrimmage yet."