In short order, Dontrelle Inman gains trust of Andrew Luck, Colts


Dontrelle Inman (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The invaluable trust shared between a quarterback and receiver takes time to develop. It’s nurtured by countless practice repetitions before getting to the point the thrower has unyielding confidence the catcher is going to be where he’s supposed to be when he’s supposed to be there.

Or it can occur in less than a month.

Occasionally, it can happen with the catcher shows the thrower he’ll hold up his end of the bargain.

We’re talking about Andrew Luck and Dontrelle Inman, who’ve been pitch-and-catch teammates for barely a month.

“The way Dontrelle runs routes is very inviting to throw him the football,’’ said offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni, who previously worked with Inman with the Chargers. “He’s very easy to read. He can separate from the defensive back. He’s a big, long target.’’

Inman is 6-3, 205 pounds.

“It only takes so many times where a receiver just plucks the ball out of the air really pretty for you to be like, ‘Man, I want to throw him the ball,’’’ Sirianni said, holding his hands high and snatching an imaginary football.

Or if the football arrives high or slightly off target, it’s still a completion. Quarterbacks appreciate receivers who make difficult catches.

“Again, ‘Oh, I missed it a little high, but Dontrelle is long and rangy and he was able to react to it,’’’ Sirianni said, falling into a quarterback’s role. “So it only takes a little bit of time for that.

“Some receivers when they come off the street in the middle of the year it takes them a little bit of time to learn the system. Well, Dontrelle knew the system. Not only that, he had his PhD in the system as a receiver when we were with the Chargers. We just knew that he would be able to pick that up quick . . . we knew Andrew would be able to trust him pretty soon.’’

The Colts didn’t hesitate to insert Inman into their offense. He signed Oct. 16 in large part because of injuries to Ryan Grant, who would miss two games with an ankle injury, and Marcus Johnson, who suffered a season-ending ankle injury against the New York Jets.

Five days later, Inman was on the field for 42-of-66 snaps against Buffalo, the most among receivers.

The last two games, Inman has been the most efficient wideout: 11 targets, 10 receptions, 93 yards. Five of his 10 catches have generated first downs.

In short order, Inman has gained Luck’s trust.

“If he doesn’t trust you, you aren’t going to get the ball at all at my position,’’ Inman said. “That’s the biggest key, gaining that trust.’’

Familiarity with the offense installed by Frank Reich and Sirianni accelerated the learning process for Inman.

“The offense was the easy part,’’ he said. “It’s very similar (to the Chargers), but it’s not the same. The terminology is a little different but the concept is basically the same.

“The one thing you really have to get a handle on is going out there and playing and getting the guys in the locker room to trust the player that you are.’’

Luck praised Inman for his route-running expertise.

“He’s very consistent,’’ Luck said. “That makes it easy for a quarterback to pick up somewhat of a rapport pretty quickly.

“By no means is it perfect. We all have work to do, but I think Dontrelle has done a great job of coming in. He knows the offense very well and he is consistent in the way he runs routes which makes his body language easy to read.’’

So, there’s trust?

“Yeah, absolutely,’’ Luck said. “If you are on the field, we trust each other.’’

Learning the landscape

Inman, 29, is with his third team in 13 months. After three-plus seasons with the Chargers, he was traded to the Chicago Bears in October 2017. When the Bears didn’t re-sign him despite a solid season – 23 receptions, 334 yards, 1 TD in eight games – Inman bided his time until the Colts called.

Once he had a new employer, it was time to settle into a new home, albeit one that might be temporary considering Inman signed a one-year contract with the Colts.

His first order of business was finding a residence on the city’s Northside.

“I’ve been in the league long enough that I’m not staying in a hotel,’’ Inman said with a smile. “I got a place maybe the first week just to relax, get comfortable, feel at home.

“At this point in your career you’re just trying to find everything that makes you comfortable: a nice bed, a nice TV, someplace you can call home. At the end of the day you really don’t know what’s going to happen. You just try to make every day a comfortable day, something that feels routine.’’

Comfortable away from the field and on the field, but never – ever – complacent.

“I’ve just got to keep plugging,’’ Inman said. “Do not get complacent. Frank (Reich) says, ‘Keep the pressure on all the time.’ That’s very true. If you start getting complacent at anything, thing’s will surpass you.

“You lose out on opportunities when you get complacent. As long as you keep the pressure on, you’re ready for any moment.’’

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