The Bears probably aren't expecting Dontrelle Inman to produce to the level Cameron Meredith did last year, but there are plenty of similarities between the two wide receivers that are worth noting.
Inman is 6-foot-3, 205 pounds; Meredith is 6-foot-3, 200 pounds. Both players had breakout seasons in 2016: Inman with 58 catches for 810 yards and four touchdowns, Meredith with 66 catches for 888 yards and four touchdowns. Beyond the measurables, Bearswide receivers coach Zach Azzanni said Inman and Meredith are comparable in terms of their length and catch radius, which he said “we were missing, quite frankly.”
“Especially in traffic, he’ll go up and make a play,” Azzanni said. “We were missing that length when Cam and Kevin (White) went out, that length got dropped down. And catch radius for a quarterback is a big deal out there. So it’ll be nice to have a guy with some length out there.”
That’s an interesting point from Azzanni about length: Tanner Gentry (before the move to acquire Inman) was the biggest and tallest receiver on the Bears at 6-foot-2, 209 pounds, but has struggled to get open and has only been targeted three times since Mitchell Trubisky took over as the team’s starting quarterback. Tre McBride and Josh Bellamy are 6-foot, Markus Wheaton is 5-foot-11 and Kendall Wright is 5-foot-10.
Just being tall and rangy doesn't make someone a good receiver, of course. Azzanni, too, has been impressed by how quickly Inman has picked up the terminology of the Bears’ offense.
“He’s a smart kid, he’s a pro, he went out there the last two days and I think he lined up wrong one time and it was just a brain fart,” Azzanni said. “That’s pretty darn good for just getting here. So I’m excited to see what he can do.”
The Bears will need Inman and Trubisky to develop a chemistry quickly — one day of practice wasn’t enough for that to happen last week before heading to New Orleans, where Inman was inactive on Sunday. Inman said he quickly learned how quick Trubisky’s passes get to receivers — “I was like, okay, he spins it, so I gotta get my head around,” he said — but the pair has put in extra reps during and after these two off week practices to help foster that connection.
“He’s got a big frame and he runs really good routes so he’s a guy to throw to,” Trubisky said. “He’s very ball savvy, so just continue to rep that chemistry along with the other guys and we’re going to continue to get better.”
Inman wasn’t a factor in the Los Angeles’ Chargers’ offense in 2017, with Keenan Allen — who Inman replaced in the lineup last year after a torn ACL — Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin getting most of the receiver snaps. He only was targeted four times in four games, and hasn’t been active since Oct. 8.
So assuming Inman is active for the Bears’ Nov. 12 date with the Green Bay Packers, it’ll have been a month between games for him. But for the short-term, Inman’s goal is to keep studying the Bears’ offense during these four off days before reporting back to Halas Hall on Sunday.
Also on Inman’s to-do list: Trying to settle in Chicago. He’s barely had a chance to catch his breath since being traded here a week ago, after all.
“I don’t have a jacket,” Inman said. “So I have to go back and get all my stuff, pack up my old place. And study still, but at the same time prepare for the move now.”