This time last year, Dontrelle Inman was just another camp body. A long-shot who had spent the previous two seasons in the CFL, Inman had potential but no guarantee of making an NFL roster.
Undrafted out of Virginia in 2011, Inman spent the 2012 and 2013 seasons playing for the CFL's Toronto Argonauts before signing with the Chargers. At 6'3" and having put up solid numbers with the Argonauts -- 100 receptions, 1,542 yards and 11 touchdowns -- Inman was an intriguing prospect. However, he still faced an uphill climb to make the team's final 53-man roster.
This changed after a productive preseason last year, when he led all receivers with seven receptions and 176 yards. While he certainly earned his place on the roster, he didn't make much of an impact until the Week 16 game against the San Francisco 49ers. Replacing an injured Keenan Allen, Inman caught seven passes for 79 yards, helping secure a dramatic win and another week of playoff contention.
While the Chargers went on to lose the next game in Kansas City and miss the playoffs, Inman still added another 79 yards in the loss. Despite his late-season heroics, Inman will have to build on last year's success to earn a spot on this year's roster.
Last season, the Chargers kept only five receivers. With the first four spots locked up by incumbents Allen and Malcom Floyd and offseason pickups Stevie Johnson and Jacoby Jones, it's likely only one or two receiver spots will be available when it comes down to final roster cuts on Sept. 5.
While Inman has potential and now some experience under his belt, he is not without competition. Veteran Austin Pettis, who signed with the Bolts at the end of last season, is probably the biggest threat to Inman's place on the roster. Pettis missed the second half of last season after being released by the Rams, but he brings more experience, if not potential. Drafted in the third round of the 2011 draft, the Boise State product played 47 games in St. Louis and racked up nine touchdowns and over 1,000 yards.
Also in the fray are 2014 practice squad receivers Javontee Herndon and Torrence Allen, as well as undrafted rookies Tyrell Williams and Titus Davis. However, based on the first day of training camp -- a small sample size, certainly -- Inman looks like he already stands out from these other receivers.
Inman looked quick in individual drills compared some of the other wide outs, and he looked even better in 11-on-11 drills. Sharing reps with the first-team offense, he easily got past cornerback Steve Williams for a deep completion from quarterback Philip Rivers. Later, Inman was wide open working against fifth-round pick Kyle Emanual for an easy completion from Kellen Clemens.
While training camp has just begun, and there is still much work to be done towards making this roster, it looks like Inman has the inside track on one of the final receiver spots.
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A San Diego native, Trenton Villanueva graduated from San Diego State University with a bachelor's degree in Journalism and a minor in the hydraulic principles of the keg. Prior to writing for SDBR, he covered sports news for FanSided and wrote music reviews for the San Diego State Daily Aztec. Follow him on Twitter @TrentNotDilfer