INDIANAPOLIS — Last year, the Indianapolis Colts couldn't keep former pass rusher Robert Mathis away from the facility after he retired. It led to a volunteer spot on the coaching staff, and ultimately turned into a full-time position a pass rush consultant.
This year, the Colts have another former great player roaming the meeting rooms and practice field, dipping his toe into the coaching waters. The team's second all-time leading receiver, Reggie Wayne, has been volunteering with the Colts as part of the wide receiver coaching staff since OTAs.
Like Mathis, Wayne has a wealth of knowledge to offer the Colts' young receiving corps. The six-time Pro-Bowler played 14 years in the NFL — all with the Colts — and is tasked with assisting a large group of receivers, most of whom have two years or less of NFL experience.
Following the end of last week's mandatory minicamp, Colts.com's Bob Lamey caught up with Wayne to see how his experience has gone thus far. Wayne acknowledged that he has enjoyed his time helping the receivers, adding, "You can't be out here and not have fun."
"I'm out here and kind of learning the ways of how it's done and adding what I can to it, and I'm enjoying it, man," Wayne said. "Just sitting back and whenever you give them a little knowledge about something, and they go out there and do it, and you see it come to light, it excites you. It's almost like you're a proud dad."
Outside of T.Y. Hilton, Ryan Grant and Chester Rogers, the remainder of the Colts' receiver depth chart is filled with young players with something to prove, particularly 2018 draft picks Reece Fountain and Deon Cain. Who better to help them develop than someone with Wayne's resumé? Wayne certainly played a role in Hilton becoming the player that he is today.
So just how good can these young Colts receivers be?
"They can be very good," he said. "Right now, it's just a lot of stuff hitting them right now at 100 miles per hour. So, as soon as they are able to grasp everything and kind of slow it down in their mind a little bit, they'll play a little faster. But as far as potential, I mean, the sky is the limit. I like all our receivers. A lot of young guys. A lot of guys that are hungry. A lot of guys that are capable of making plays, so it's encouraging to see them out there competing a little bit. It kinda makes me smile."
Colts head coach Frank Reich, who got his start in coaching as an intern with then-head coach Tony Dungy's Colts staff back in 2006 — similarly to how Mathis and Wayne have approached it — said having Wayne around the team this spring has been invaluable.
"Reggie has a really good presence, man," Reich said. "He's got a good presence on the field, in the meeting room. Really just complements – it's all about complementing each other as coaches. We all have the same objective, just to push the players. We talked about that a lot with the players. The key is as a coach, I learned from Marv Levy, a Hall of Fame coach, the key is to get self-motivated players. But no matter how self-motivated you are, there's a part in coaching we've got to push to get that last five or 10 percent out of them. Every coach brings their own element of that. Reggie kind of brings his own juice and style to that. He just has so much credibility because of what's done to push those players and it shows."
So will Wayne ultimately continue following Mathis and Reich's footsteps and pursue a more full-time coaching opportunity?
Right now he says he's just focused on "trying to get every bit out of it I can."
"You never know," Wayne said. "We'll see where it goes from there."