PHOENIX — Robert Mathis' time as a full-time member of the Indianapolis Colts' coaching staff may be over, but the impact he'll be making on the team's pass rushers certainly is not.
Colts head coach Frank Reich said Tuesday that Mathis, who had been assisting defensive line coach Mike Phair with a focus on edge rushers, has decided to step away from his full-time role on the Colts' staff, but will remain with the team as a pass rush consultant.
"Yeah, (he) just stepped back to just a consulting role," Reich told reporters from the NFL Owners Meetings in Phoenix. "So still kind of helping on pass-rush stuff, but not full-time. Just periodically coming in, helping out. So in spirit still with us."
Mathis, who retired following the 2016 season after having compiled a Colts franchise-record 123 sacks as well as 54 forced fumbles, the most in NFL history, dove right into the coaching ranks as a volunteer assistant with the team during the 2017 offseason before he was hired full-time just prior to the start of the regular season.
In his two full seasons as a full-time member on the Colts' staff, Mathis was instrumental in the development of several young defensive contributors, such as Darius Leonard, who had seven sacks as an off-the-ball linebacker in 2018, as well as fellow 2018 NFL Draft picks Kemoko Turay and Tyquan Lewis. Several other veteran defensive linemen have also flourished with Mathis' guidance, including Denico Autry, Margus Hunt and Jabaal Sheard.
So what's next for Mathis? He told ESPN's Mike Wells on Tuesday that he will now be training athletes as a part of Pro X Athlete, which is housed at Grand Park Sports Campus in nearby Westfield, Ind., the home of Colts training camp.
"The Colts have done a great job supporting me," Mathis told Wells. "I'm still a partner with them. I'm just not a coach with the team anymore. They know my heart is in a good place. They know I have good intentions and that I want the best for them. This is one of the ways I feel like I can help them. It's a win-win because I still get to do what I'm passionate about in teaching while helping guys on the team I spent my entire career with."
Reich echoed Mathis' sentiments.
"It's a big jump going from playing to coaches. It's a big commitment," Reich said. "I think it can be a win-win, where he can still be there and still offer his wisdom and stuff to us at appropriate times and in appropriate ways."