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Two weeks after Freeney signed with the Chargers, the Syracuse alum and Connecticut native flew south and to be a groomsmen in Mathis‘ wedding, and the conversations between Freeney and Mathis have continued right through training camp.

“Absolutely, I miss him. That’s my brother from another mother,” Freeney said after a recent Chargers practice. “We are linked together for 10 years, one guy across from me. It is different. It is a little bit uncomfortable without him. I don’t like it. But I understand it and I know this is the game, and that’s life, and things change.”

The Colts have moved on, too.

Mathis, now in his 11th NFL season, will resume his pursuit of Freeney’s franchise record for sacks (107.5). He starts 2013 with 91.5 and will try to prove he can be just as productive without Freeney’s presence.

Freeney, meanwhile, will try to jump-start his career in San Diego, working for Pagano’s younger brother, John, again as an outside linebacker, trying to move up the NFL’s career sacks chart in what will be a season full of firsts.

Both will finally get a crack at sacking Manning, now with the Denver Broncos. Mathis gets the first crack, Oct. 20, when Manning returns to Lucas Oil Stadium in one of this season’s marquee matchups. Freeney will have two chances _ Nov. 10 in San Diego and Dec. 12 at Denver.

Yet the most emotional game for these two will come Oct. 14 when they are reunited in San Diego on opposite sidelines.

“It’s really more like a big-brother, little-brother relationship,” said the 31-year-old Mathis. “It’s just something you have to get used to.”


AP Sports Writer Bernie Wilson in San Diego contributed to this report.



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