FOXBORO, Mass. — Behind No. 1 receiver Julian Edelman, the New England Patriots’ wide receiver depth chart currently is wide open.
N’Keal Harry, Phillip Dorsett, Dontrelle Inman, Maurice Harris, Braxton Berrios, Damoun Patterson, Ryan Davis, Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski were all battling for higher positions in the Patriots’ receiver corps Thursday in OTAs while Demaryius Thomas sat out amid torn Achilles recovery and Josh Gordon currently suspended.
Pretty much anyone realistically could emerge from that group with either a starting slot or 53-man roster spot. But that didn’t cross Inman’s mind when he signed with the Patriots as a free agent earlier this month.
“I just worry about me, myself,” Inman said. “Just go out there and give the best that I can do and let everything else work out.”
So, why did Inman, who has played with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Chargers, Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts, and spent a brief stint in the CFL, sign with the Patriots? It’s pretty simple, really.
“I like winning,” Inman said. “It’s one of those things like being part of a winning organization, you want to try to help the team win. That’s why I made my decision.”
Inman is a 30-year-old journeyman who went undrafted out of Virginia in 2011, but he has as good of a shot as anyone to line up as a starting wideout in Week 1 when the Patriots take on the Pittsburgh Steelers. He caught 28 passes for 304 yards with three touchdowns in nine games last season with the Colts. His best season came in 2016 with the Chargers when he caught 58 passes for 810 yards with four touchdowns. He’s got good size at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds and the versatility to line up outside or in the slot.
First, he must learn the offense.
“Any time you go to a new place, the verbiage is going to be different, but the concepts are going to be the same, so it’s just a matter of erasing the verbiage that you’ve learned in the past and basically just start fresh,” Inman said.
“It doesn’t come easy to no one. It’s just a matter of memorization. If you can memorize it, then it’s good. If you can’t memorize it, then just like any place in this league, you won’t be successful.”
As Inman approaches another offseason with a new team, he remembers a lesson taught by Al Groh, his head coach at Virginia, as well as a former Bill Belichick colleague with the Patriots, New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and New York Jets.
“It’s just a matter of just keep your head down,” Inman said. “My coach Al Groh said this a long time ago. I was a freshman. ‘There’s no light at the end of the tunnel.’ So, I just take that mindset and never look for the light. Just keep pushing. Just keep trucking, and good things happen.”
Thumbnail photo via Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports Images