Bears Hope Dontrelle Inman Can Become Target Mitchell Trubisky Needs

By Chris Emma—

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) – Left exhausted by a busy 24 hours, new Bears receiver Dontrelle Inman was held out of practice Thursday at Halas Hall to finally rest and recuperate

Inman was acquired by the Bears from the Chargers on Wednesday afternoon in exchange for a conditional seventh-round pick. From there, the whirlwind began. He traveled to Chicago, passed his physical, which included MRIs to confirm his health, then received a playbook. Inman began reviewing the schemes and quickly found similarities to what he has run before.

As he watched practiced, Inman looked out to the field and saw what could bring him success with the Bears – rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, whose big arm has been needing a target.

“He is a gunslinger,” Inman said. “You can see the confidence in him. Just for me today, just out there looking at him. For the past four, five weeks, I’ve been just watching him (thinking) this kid can be good. And he shows it. He shows that he can be great in this league.

“I can run, I can catch, I can run routes, I can get open and I love to just play the game. It’s the love of the game that if anything else and me having fun is what I bring to the table.”

Inman arrived to a locker room with his nameplate written in marker and his locker in the opposite corner from the wide receivers. He faces a change of scenery with the Bears, but it’s one for the better.

In Los Angeles, Inman lost his place on a Chargers depth chart that primarily featured Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin. First-round pick Mike Williams also may assume a larger role now that he’s healthy. Inman became the odd man out.

Last season, Inman was the Chargers’ second-leading receiver, recording 58 catches for 810 yards and four touchdowns. He had core muscle surgery during the offseason but is now considered healthy, as the Bears confirmed with their battery of tests Thursday morning.

Inman, 28, could be just what the Bears were needing. They’ve been seeking a big target ever since losing Alshon Jeffery to free agency. Coincidentally, Inman will wear the No. 17 that Jeffery donned with the Bears.

With just one practice ahead a game against the Saints in New Orleans on Sunday, it’s unlikely that Inman will play. The Bears have their bye week ahead, which would allow for an ample acclimation process before facing the Packers in Week 10. But Bears coach John Fox also didn’t rule Inman out for this Sunday.

“He seems like a really bright guy,” Fox said. “He’s been in the league long enough. He’s been in some complex systems, some similar systems. We’ll have to evaluate that.”

Added Trubisky: “Hear he’s a good player. I’ll just help him any way I can. He’s part of this team and family now.”

The Bears would love to have Inman bring to Trubisky what no other receiver has. They’ve been lacking players who can separate in coverage and get open. Trubisky finished 4-of-7 for 107 yards in a 17-3 win against the Panthers on Sunday, mostly because of an offense aimed at protecting the football but also due to receivers not getting open.

Inman had the size at 6-foot-4 to impact the passing game. He could be just what Trubisky needs for 2017 and perhaps beyond that. It’s a contract season for Inman, and now he has plenty more to prove.

“If you try to look at what’s ahead instead of what’s actually right now, you’ll lose focus of what you have to do right now,” Inman said. “So for me, I just go in day to day. Day to day, win that day. Today’s the only day that matters.”

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.

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