A few minutes with Kwame Geathers

SAN DIEGO -- An undrafted rookie free agent last year out of Georgia, Kwame Geathers spent the 2013 season on the San Diego Chargers' active roster but rarely played.

In 16 games, Geathers played a total of 27 snaps, finishing with a combined four tackles. Although he did not play a lot, Geathers said he learned through practice and watching others at his position of nose tackle on the field.

Now, it's time to put those observations to good use. Geathers has been working as San Diego's No. 2 nose tackle in training camp behind Sean Lissemore, and ahead of this year's fifth-round draft selection Ryan Carrethers.

"It's the second year in, so I feel more comfortable out there," Geathers said. "I've been able to learn a lot watching guys like Lissemore and Cam (Thomas) who left. And just going out in practice every day and giving the offense a look. I worked on the little things like pad level, footwork and hand placement. And those are the biggest things I need to continue to work on every day."

Chargers head coach Mike McCoy, who likes Geathers' size at 6-6 and 335 pounds, says the key for the tall tackle is playing at a lower pad level and not getting too high coming out of his stance.

"When you see him play, when he stands up it's tough for him to play," McCoy said. "But when he keeps his pad level down, he's tough to block. So that's something that Don's (Defensive line coach Don Johnson) on him every day. John Pagano obviously is on him to keep his low pad level, and do what he does best."

Family lineage also played a large role in Geathers' development. His father, Robert Geathers Sr., played at South Carolina State and was selected in the third round of the 1981 draft by the Buffalo Bills. His uncle, James "Jumpy" Geathers, played 13 years in the NFL with New Orleans, Washington, Atlanta and Denver.

Geathers' older brother Robert Geathers currently plays for the Cincinnati Bengals as a defensive end.

"It helps a little bit, being able to go home and know you're going to get some football out of it, too," Geathers said. "They're going to talk about it and tell you what you need to do. And just hearing it over and over, hopefully it will stick with you."

Geathers said he understands that he has to make the most of the reps he's getting during training camp, and make it happen once the preseason starts in order to win a roster spot and consistent playing time.

"It's very important," he said. "When you get your opportunity, you have to take advantage of it. You can't look back because there's always the next man up. So you have to go fight for it every day."