ATHENS, Ga. - There may come a time when Robert Geathers is best known for his accomplishments instead of his football lineage.
Until that time, the Georgia sophomore known as Junior doesn't mind being known as the son of former NFL defensive tackle Robert Geathers or the nephew of a more famous NFL pass-rushing defensive lineman, Jumpy Geathers, who spent some time with the Atlanta Falcons near the end of his long career.
Wearing a "Human Forklift'' T-shirt depicting Jumpy Geathers, who was known as one of the strongest players in the NFL, the sophomore defensive end made it clear after practice Wednesday that he likes being associated with his father and uncle.
"I don't mind being attached to my family background,'' Geathers said. "It all has been positive. They have accomplished what I want to accomplish one day.''
Geathers is making progress. After playing in every game as a backup last year as a true freshman, Geathers is a starting defensive end and is being counted on to help replace the production lost by 2001 ends Charles Grant, Bruce Adrine and Josh Mallard.
Coach Mark Richt says he is counting on Geathers "a bunch.''
"(Geathers) and (David) Pollack have got to do it for us,'' Richt said. "They've got to provide pressure.''
Geathers says he learned from Grant and others last year.
"I know I've got some shoes to fill,'' said Geathers, who now carries 266 pounds on his 6-foot-4 frame after playing at 242 pounds last season.
Geathers is bigger, but he's still no match for The Human Forklift.
"Before I reported (as a Georgia freshman), I would have my pads on and (Jumpy Geathers) would just have his helmet on,'' Geathers said, adding that his uncle "just killed me'' in those back-yard blocking drills.
Geathers missed spring practice following toe surgery. Though still sore, he has not missed a session during two-a-day practices.
Practice notes: Wednesday's two practices were more about instruction than contact as Richt said "You could just tell it was a tired bunch.''
Two starting offensive linemen - tackle Kareem Marshall (neck) and guard Alex Jackson (groin) - had minor injuries from Tuesday's scrimmage. Marshall was wearing a neck brace Wednesday, but he and Jackson could return for today's afternoon session, according to Richt.
Also, freshman guard Josh Brock aggravated an ankle injury and may be less likely to return today.
Richt said quarterback David Greene completed 11 passes in a row Wednesday afternoon. Richt said top backup D.J. Shockley also was sharp.
The other linebacker: Middle linebacker Tony Gilbert and outside linebacker Boss Bailey are established senior leaders on the defense. The other starting linebacker, junior Chris Clemons, is making a strong showing after gaining strength in the offseason.
"I've been impressed with Chris,'' Richt said. "He put on probably 20 pounds. He truly got bigger, stronger and faster. Now you can tell he's a much more confident football player. He really looks good. The top three linebackers are having a fine camp.''
Clemons played behind Bailey and 2001 senior Will Witherspoon the last two years.
"You've got to know how to play your role,'' said Clemons, a spot starter in his first two years.
Added Clemons: "Now it's my turn.''
Gibson still sore: Receiver Fred Gibson has made a few one-handed catches, just to show off, but otherwise he has been held out the last two days with his sprained left wrist he suffered Monday.
Gibson had ice on the wrist Wednesday. X-rays were negative, but Gibson said "It hurts; I can't catch.''
Charles Odum can be reached here: CEOdum@aol.com