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Duke Ihenacho: Chris Cooley’s story about uniform number is ‘completely inaccurate’

Duke Ihenacho switched from No. 24 to No. 29 after Josh Norman was signed. (Rick Scuteri/Associated Press)

Chris Cooley and Kevin Sheehan spent part of their show Thursday on Redskins-owned ESPN 980 dissecting where the Redskins’ season went wrong. During a discussion about the secondary’s struggles under defensive backs coach Perry Fewell, who was not retained along with defensive coordinator Joe Barry and two other assistants, Cooley offered several reasons and theories for why Washington’s safeties and cornerbacks weren’t a cohesive unit by the end of the year. One of them involved free agent acquisition Josh Norman being given safety Duke Ihenacho’s uniform number.

“When you signed Josh Norman, you forgot to tell Duke Ihenacho that you were going to give his number away, and for eight weeks of the season you had a rift with the coaching staff and the organization and Duke Ihenacho, with the fact that he couldn’t sell his number to Josh Norman,” Cooley said. ” ‘Hey, Duke, here’s an extra 50 grand; Josh is gonna have your number now. Sorry. He’s Josh Norman; you’re Duke Ihenacho. That’s how things work in the NFL.’”

“That was a real issue, wasn’t it?” Sheehan asked.

“It was a real issue,” Cooley said.

“Yeah,” Sheehan said. “We talked about it earlier in the season, sort of implied it. It was why he wasn’t getting on the field early in the year.”

“From what I’ve understood, it was why he was unwilling to act professional early in the year,” Cooley said. “And that’s not fact, and I have no real source on that, but from what I understand, that’s the case, or that’s what led to it. Led to a rift. It’s unbelievable. And all of these issues are what led to a dismantled DB room at the end of the 2017 season, a DB room that did not function and did not communicate, did not meet well, did not practice well and did not play well together. They were not a team, as a group of DBs. … It started with the loss of [DeAngelo] Hall, who was the true leader of that team, and he shouldn’t have been in the role he was in at safety, and it trickled on down to every single move made that was wrong in the secondary, or how moves were handled, or how players were handled.”

As reports swirled that the Redskins were interested in signing Norman back in April, Ihenacho joked on Twitter that the former Carolina Panthers cornerback would have to pay to get his No. 24. On Friday, Ihenacho, who switched to No. 29, denied Cooley’s story and called it “completely inaccurate.” Ihenacho took particular issue with Cooley’s comment about him acting unprofessionally.

Ihenacho wasn’t really done.

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