By Brett Dolan

You couldn’t blame Texans Linebacker Justin Tuggle if he was enjoying the joint practices with Atlanta a little more than others. The last time he was at a Falcons Training Camp session, he was just a kid running around watching his father Jesse work. Now he is doing the work, and enjoying every minute of it.

“It is neat,” Justin said after Thursday’s morning practice. “I grew up around the Falcons, I grew up around Training Camp and I grew up around their complex. To go out here and practice against them, I feel like I have come full circle and I really appreciate it and I’m having fun out here.”

Father Jesse played all 14 of his NFL seasons with the Falcons, earning the nickname, “The Hammer” for his impact from his linebacker position.

Tuggle produced 12 straight 100 plus tackle seasons and earned five Pro Bowl appearances while starting 189 games for the Falcons. He was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.

Justin said his father was definitely deserving of the nickname.

“If you go around the Falcons complex, you don’t hear Jesse, you hear Hammer,” he said. I think it’s a sign of respect he got and he deserved it. He had a great career and put a lot of great work on the field and hopefully he gets recognized for it one day.”

Did Justin ever get called the “Little Hammer” as a kid?

“When I was little,” he admitted with a big smile. “But I am trying to earn it now.”

Tuggle is also trying to earn playing time in Romeo Crennel’s system. That process started and continues on the practice field. The Kansas State product enjoyed the chance to go up against some different players and break up camp with the joint sessions.

“Different bodies, different people and I felt like there was a different energy out here as well,” he said. “So we came out here this week and tried to put two good practices back to back and I feel like we did, so I feel like we are ready for this weekend.”

He emphasized the amount of learning that has been going on in camp with the hope of translating the work to results on the field.

“We have been trying to learn and put everything together,” he said.

The next opportunity to do that in a game setting will be Saturday when the Falcons and Texans meet in the second pre-season game, the NRG opener at 7:00 p.m.

It’s a good bet that the “Little Hammer” will be enjoying himself the most while playing against his boyhood team.



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