Ade Jimoh is a survivor. The 26-year-old cornerback overcame some rough patches early in his career to play four seasons in Washington and become a mainstay on special teams.
Now, Jimoh faces uncertainty heading into the 2007 offseason. He is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in March.
"The Redskins gave me an opportunity four years ago," he said recently. "This is an awesome football town and I've been blessed to be here."
Jimoh was pressed into duty at cornerback more often last season due to injuries to Shawn Springs and Carlos Rogers. He finished with eight tackles and three passes defended.
In the season finale against the New York Giants, Jimoh suffered a concussion and left the game early. He was fine afterwards.
It's no secret that, with the NFL's 32nd-ranked pass defense, the Redskins could seek to improve and upgrade their secondary this offseason. Where Jimoh fits in is certainly under evaluation.
Playing special teams is where Jimoh has made his mark with the Redskins, though. He finished seventh on the team in special teams tackles last season with 20, including two in the season finale against the Giants.
In Week 13 against Atlanta, Jimoh downed a Derrick Frost punt at the Falcons' 2-yard line. A week later, against Philadelphia, he pounced on a fumble by punt returner Reno Mahe.
Jimoh's biggest special teams play may have been Week 12, when he leveled punt returner Steve Smith late in the fourth quarter and the Redskins holding a 17-13 lead.
More often than not, Jimoh has been in the right place at the right time on special teams. That's a big reason why the defensive back has been a part of the special teams during the course of two coaching regimes.
In April of 2003, then-Redskins defensive assistant Kirk Olivadotti discovered the undrafted free agent out of Utah State to add depth to the defensive backfield and help contribute to special teams.
Playing for Steve Spurrier's Redskins that season, Jimoh was forced into action in the defensive secondary--never an easy task for a rookie--and he struggled. But he was solid on special teams, enough to make an impression on coaches.
The following season, Joe Gibbs returned as head coach of the Redskins and brought in special teams coordinator Danny Smith.
"I've been fortunate that Coach Smith has seen my potential on special teams," Jimoh said. "He always says that, on offense or defense, you always get another play if you make a mistake. On special teams, that's not always the case. That's how I've approached special teams."
The 6-1, 190-pound Jimoh responded well in 2004 with another 20-tackle season on special teams, including a five-tackle game in the season-opener against Tampa Bay. In 2005, Jimoh produced another solid season with 20 special teams tackles.
Playing special teams on the Redskins has been a tradition that began with George Allen in the 1970s and has continued with Gibbs in each of his terms.
"We all take a lot of pride in special teams," he said of a unit that includes mainstays like Rock Cartwright, Mike Sellers and Khary Campbell, among others. "We thrive off of each other. This is a good group. We're confident that if one of us misses an opportunity, someone else will be there to pick up the slack."
Utah State has never been known as an NFL football factory, but the Redskins coincidentally have two former Aggies on their team. Tight end Chris Cooley and Jimoh played on the same college team from 2000-02.
According to Jimoh, Cooley used the same recipe for success in the college ranks that he did with the burgundy and gold.
"Chris is a similar player in the NFL as he was at Utah State," Jimoh said. "He stays within himself, breaks tackles and makes plays. We talk about the Utah State days all the time."
Redskins.com's Gary Fitzgerald contributed to this article.