There are many superlatives used to describe NFL players.
According to Philip Rivers, Dontrelle Inman possesses the one he covets most in a teammate, which is why he gave a lengthy answer following the game lauding the wide receiver.
"As a quarterback and as a coach, if you want one quality for a player, you want them to have dependability," Rivers said. "Dontrelle is a good player. He makes plays, runs good routes (and) does those things, (but) the main thing, is he is dependable. You can count on him to run the right route, to play any position (and) to do his job every day. That is what we thought we were getting when we got him from Canada. (Former Offensive Coordinator) Frank (Reich) had talked to the coach he played for in Canada and he said, 'If I had 41, or however big their roster is, Dontrelles, I would have a heck of a team.' He had a heck of a day."
Anyone who needs proof of Inman's dependability just has to turn on the film from the 21-13 win over the Houston Texans.
Whether it was a well-executed double-move for a 52-yard touchdown, a key 11-yard catch on 3rd-and-10 or breaking off his route to help Rivers when Number 17 extended the play with his legs, Inman came up clutch for the Bolts. He caught all six passes thrown his way for 119 yards, which was one shy of his career-high.
Inman credits his dependability on three simple factors he stresses when it comes to his craft.
"Win at the line of scrimmage, separate at the top and make the tough catches," he said. "Those are the three things as a wide receiver (where) you could be mediocre and you can still play in this league. Those three things are key to receiving. Keep it simple. Win at the line of scrimmage, win at the top and make a tough catch."
The wideout did all three things on his 52-yard touchdown catch that sparked the Bolts after a sluggish start on offense. Inman baited the safety with a stop-and-go move, leaving him in his dust as he was wide open for the score. The perfect play call for the situation, Rivers said Inman's route and execution was pivotal to making it work.
"It was a great call by Whiz," he said. We got them in the coverage we wanted before the play. (Dontrelle) just ran a little hand in palm and the safety bent just enough. I had to let it go early. We had an empty set. There were five guys and they fought like crazy, but there was a guy coming free right there early so I had to throw it early and I was afraid I overthrew it. (Inman) did a great job on that one too just staying so thin where he can find that ball and make that adjustment."
Inman also set up the team's final touchdown of the day with a pair of catches that showcased his dependability. After cutting a 1st-and-20 into a more manageable yet still difficult 3rd-and-10, Rivers fired for number 15 who ran his route right to the sticks for a gain of 11. On the next snap, Rivers kept the play alive by rolling to his right after eluding Houston's pass rush. Inman recognized the play and faded to his right as well, hauling in a 25-yard catch that put the ball at the Texans' 13-yard line after a personal foul hit to his helmet.
"I've got to go with him," Inman said of his mentality. "I've got to go with him. I've got to go with my partner. I've got to go with him."
One play later, Rivers hit Hunter Henry to extend the lead to 21-10. After the game, Head Coach Mike McCoy echoed his quarterback, praising Inman's dependability and contributions.
"Dontrelle only knows one way to do it," McCoy said. "I think it took him some time to get his opportunity, and once we gave him that opportunity, he ran with it. I think if you talk to Philip, there's certain routes that I know he wants that guy out there catching the ball at certain times of the game. He has so much trust in him, but that's built over time, and it's a trust factor from any quarterback to receiver…. Dontrelle has been someone that once he got his opportunity, we knew it was going to be hard to take him off the field."