SAN DIEGO – A teammate of Peyton Manning's for 10 seasons in Indianapolis, including a Super Bowl win, San Diego Chargers outside linebacker Dwight Freeney said he told his teammates not to pay attention to the quarterback's constant hand signals and gestures.
"The big thing is all the theatrics, all that stuff, try not to focus on it," Freeney said. "He's going to be calling different things so that guys on defense pay attention to it.
"So when he calls this it's going to be an out route. The next time he does that again, it's going to be an out and up. He really feeds off of that stuff. So for us, we have to put the ear muffs on, put the blinders on and pay attention to your keys."
Freeney said the main thing the San Diego defense has to understand with Manning is the tempo and speed he likes to run his offense.
"Every week he has to change up signals, change up calls and things he does," Freeney said. "I can give them a little advice based on tempo, and from a theory standpoint offensively what they're trying to do. Other than that, the signals and all of that I can't go into. I still haven't figured that out."
Freeney's also aware of Manning's struggles against San Diego. The Chargers are 2-0 against Manning-led teams in the postseason, with wins over the Indianapolis Colts in 2007 and 2008.
Including the two playoff losses, Manning is 7-6 overall against the Chargers in his 16-year NFL career.
"I always knew that Peyton historically has had trouble with the Chargers," Freeney said. "I've known that over the years. But I think every year is different.
"I'm sure in the back of his head, he's maybe thinking a little about that -- how could you not? But I believe he's going to do a good job of preparing. We just have to do a good job of what we're doing."
Freeney had been away from the Chargers for the most part since suffering a torn quad tendon against the Dallas Cowboys in a Sept. 29 contest, an injury that required surgery.
However, now that he's at the point in his rehab where he's mobile and can walk around, Freeney has returned to the locker room.
He traveled to the Cincinnati game with the team last week, and intends on making the trip to Denver with the Chargers this weekend.
"It's a balance because you have to take care of yourself," Freeney said. "When you have a major injury like I have, you have to make sure you're right first. And I did that.
"But then when I'm able to be around, I try to be around. So now that I can walk, the doctors took the shackles off, so now I can come around guys and high-five, and don't be afraid if a guy runs into on the sideline, I'll still be okay."
Freeney said he's been working with longtime rehab partner, exercise physiologist Denis Thompson, who's located in Minnesota. Freeney says Thompson flies and meets him in different places to help him with his rehab.
"He's done a great job of just rehabbing and working with me over the years -- 12 years now," Freeney said. "He knows me, I know him. He can scream at me, and I won't get mad at him."
Freeney signed a two-year, $8.75 million deal with the Chargers during the offseason. Freeney is due to make $3.5 million in non-guaranteed base salary in 2014. And he intends to honor that agreement, which means he plans on returning to play for the Chargers next season.
"The team has already said they'd love to have me around next year, and I'd love to be around next year," Freeney said. "So there's no reason to question that."