Picture walking into a locker room and finding your locker is next to a player of your same position who went to your rival college. Do you hold on to that spirited college football grudge or use it to break the ice?
“(Dontrelle’s) a guy who came in and went to UVA, which is one of my rival schools, so we kind of had that connection there,” Royal said. “But he loves the game of football and is always trying to get better. We’re always learning from each other. Always picking something we can get better at after practice because you have a limited amount of time (on the field).”
Thursday night’s first preseason matchup against the Dallas Cowboys was Inman’s debut as a Charger, and he made his presence known in the loudest way possible. He finished with three receptions for 107-yards and one touchdown. His 70-yard catch-and-run touchdown was the highlight of the night, sending Charger fans to their feet.
It would be easy for Inman to take the credit for his play, but the humble receiver attributed his success to his teammates, especially Royal.
“It’s always good to display a little bit of something but it’s not about me,” Inman said. “I’ve never been the type of guy who always took all the credit. I work with Eddie Royal every day, on and off practice, in the meeting rooms, everything.”
This isn’t an exaggeration.
Back on the practice field two days after Thursday’s game, Royal and Inman spent an extra hour after practice ended working together, catching passes and running routes. Head Coach Mike McCoy took note of extra time the two receivers spend together, which has become a common sight around Chargers Park.
Royal, entering his seventh season in the NFL, cherishes having a teammate who he can not only mentor, but who can help him refine his own game as well.
“We learn from each other,” Royal said. “He’s picking me apart too. (He) sees the little things I can do better in practice so we really pick each other’s brains. (I) tell him what to expect with reading coverages but it goes back and forth.”
After spending two hours in the hot San Diego sun, why is it so important to get that extra practice time in? Royal attributes it to helping him succeed as a player.
“(The extra practice is) everything,” Royal said. “It’s the little things that are going to help you get open (and) it’s the little things in games. Being in the league a little while, I’ve learned that it’s not always what you do at practice, it’s what you do when you go home and what you do after practice that’s going to help you have that success. Everybody’s so good in the league that you need to try and get some type of advantage.”
Inman, a former CFL star, uses his time with Royal to enhance his skills as a receiver, which paid off in Thursday’s win over Dallas.
“The one thing we work on is catching the ball over the shoulder,” he said. “So that pass I caught (Thursday) was definitely from the work we put in day-in and day-out.”
With their hard work set to continue post-training camp practices, look out for more big plays from Inman and Royal and be glad the Commonwealth Cup rivals come together as one on game days.