INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – He’s back.
“Sorta come full circle,’’ Dontrelle Inman said Wednesday.
He traveled so far only to find himself back in the same spot. Consider Inman’s most recent career arcs: from Indy to the New England Patriots to the Los Angeles Chargers and back to Indy, along with quality time with his family in South Carolina and Georgia. All in less than 12 months.
“This business is really week-to-week,’’ he said with a knowing smile.
The local Welcome Wagon was led by the old man in the receivers room.
“T.Y. (Hilton) was yelling down the hallway,’’ Inman said.
Inman’s return was out of necessity. The Colts placed rookie wideout Parris Campbell on IR Monday with a broken right foot. The previous week, they lost Chester Rogers to a knee injury.
But this reunion seemed inevitable.
Inman’s first stint with the Colts began Oct. 16, 2018. Injuries had depleted the position – sound familiar? – and he had knowledge of the offensive system installed by Frank Reich and coordinator Nick Sirianni from their days with the Chargers. Inman was instrumental in the Colts finishing the season with a flourish and earning a playoff spot. In nine games, he had 28 catches, 304 yards and three touchdowns.
There was a desire to re-sign him in the offseason, but Inman preferred to test the open market rather than accept the one-year contract extended by Chris Ballard. That one-year deal was pulled from the table after the Colts signed veteran Devin Funchess and drafted Campbell in the second round of the draft.
“That’s just the nature of the business,’’ Inman said. “One second you’re in, the next second you’re out.’’
Inman signed a free-agent deal with the Patriots, asked for and was given his release, then returned to the Chargers. He appeared in four games – eight catches, 132 yards – before being placed on IR with a quadriceps injury. The Chargers waived him last month.
Through it all, he never lost contact with the Colts.
“I signed with the Patriots and coach Frank was still texting me,’’ Inman said. “He said, ‘I feel like it’s not over Dontrelle.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I feel the same way. It’ll work out one way or the other.’’’
Inman struck up a relationship with quarterback Jacoby Brissett last season, and they also kept in contact.
“Jacoby has been calling me since week 4,’’ he said. “He was saying, ‘What’s taking you so long to get back here?’ I was like, ‘Gotta be patient. I’ll be there.’’’
And here he is, back again, the circle completed.
The Colts brought him in for a workout last week, but he opted to return to South Carolina and be with his family. At some point, he decided it was time to get back in the game and get back to Indy.
“For an athlete, where you have the most success and are more comfortable, that’s really what you call home as a player, and I do feel like this is home for me,’’ Inman said.
His contract is just for the rest of the season. As was the case last season, everyone is expecting immediate contributions.
“Another great veteran,’’ Hilton said. “He knows the offense. He knows Nick and Frank pretty well. Another guy we can just plug in and just go out there and play and make plays for us.’’
Reich and Sirianni tapped into Inman’s skillset during their time with him with the Chargers. That was instrumental when he was a mid-season addition last season and also will be invaluable over the final three games.
“We have a long history with him,’’ Sirianni said. “He’s still playing in this league because he still does the things he does well. He continues to excel at the things he does well.’’
The season has placed a serious strain on the depth of the receivers room, and the ability of Ballard and his personnel staff to continually restock it.
Steve Ishmael (knee) and Reece Fountain (ankle) were lost during training camp. Funchess broke his left clavicle in the opener and never returned. Hilton first dealt with a quad injury this season and now the calf. Campbell’s rookie season has been sabotaged by a sprained ankle in training camp, hernia surgery, a fractured hand and broken ankle. The last two weeks have seen Rogers and Campbell added to IR.
“It’s crazy. You go into the training room and it’s like, ‘This is the new meeting room?’’’ Inman joked. “Guys (are in there) . . . 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. It’s tough.’’
It’s the business.
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