There is a new tradition in Atlanta. Since 2008, the Falcons have traveled to a local high school the first weekend in August to give the fans the ultimate Falcons experience which is called Friday Night Lights. Fans can watch the players go through a normal training camp practice, get autographs from their favorite players and get free Falcons swag.
On Friday night, the Falcons were a Peachtree Ridge High School located in Suwanee, Ga., which is 20 minutes away from the Falcons headquarters, and the fans got a chance to see the team go through its first scrimmage of camp.
“It was good to see the guys compete,” Falcons head coach Mike Smith said. “I thought both sides of the ball did some nice things. Until I watch the tape, it’s going to be hard to evaluate who did things well and who didn’t.”
There were a few players that stood out, but there not the typical players that usually stand out on Sundays. Defensive end Lawrence Sidbury and wide receiver Michael Calvin were two players that caught the eye of Falcons coaches as well as fans.
Sidbury registered two sacks in the scrimmage and Calvin had a couple of nice catches to put the offense in position to score including an over-the-shoulder catch from John Parker Wilson at the end of the scrimmage.
“Michael [Calvin] can run extremely well,” Smith said about Calvin who has a 4.3 speed. “That was the explosive play.”
Guys like Sidbury and Calvin are not going to start when the season opens, but the coaches wanted to get a look at the second and third teamers more in the Friday scrimmage because the first team guys will get more action in the first preseason game on Thursday as well as the combined practice against the Tennessee Titans in Dalton on Monday.
“It gives us another evaluation,” Smith said about working against the Titans. “You don’t get an opportunity to practice as much as you have in the past with the Collective Bargaining Agreement. You have to try to figure out ways to make sure that you’re giving everybody an opportunity to be evaluated.”
The event on Monday will be more like a routine practice for the Falcons and there will be no tackling because the team will be three days away for their first preseason game. Fans going to the event will love to see the team go against the Titans because it’s rare that fans see one team practice against another.
But Friday night was for the fans and they got to see some live action Falcons football for the first time since December. But it was also for the players because they get to come back to where it all started.
“I always loved this,” Tony Gonzalez said talking about Friday Night Lights. “We didn’t do this back in Kansas City. When I first got here, I remember the first Friday Night Lights I played in. It’s pretty cool.”
This is the fifth time the Falcons have hosted Friday Night Lights at a high school in Gwinnett County. The Falcons have been to Mill Creek, Brookwood, North Gwinnett and Norcross over the past four years.