Friday Night Lights: Live Blog


*'s Daniel Cox will be live blogging throughout Friday night at Kia Motors Friday Night Lights with all the action of the evening. Refresh this page often to see Daniel's updates throughout the practice session and live-action scrimmage. *

9:14 p.m.- Well that seemed like it didn't take too long! Davis couldn't finish the drive, but a first down on the final play, a pass, gave the Falcons offense a 7-6 win. Davis closed the drive looking strong and appears to deserve the praise he got from coach Smith a few days ago.

"He's developing very well," Smith said. "When he got here in our minicamp for the rookies, it was a big disadvantage. He had never seen the playbook. We were clipping along pretty good, and I think he was a little overwhelmed. It's kind of slowed down for him and he's done some nice things. He's got a strong arm. He's very athletic. He's a guy we'll see what he can do. He's going to get an opportunity to play in the preseason games. He's been a very pleasant surprise and there's been a number of guys. You'll see in the preseason games when the young guys get in there and have an opportunity to play they know that they're fighting for jobs. They absolutely understand there are roster spots available for undrafted players on this roster."

9:12 p.m.- It's about fifteen minutes into the scrimmage and the Falcons defense leads the offense by a slim margin of 6-5. The Sidbury sack has been the highlight of the night and the Falcons D is keeping the offense out of the endzone. It looks like, however, Dominique Davis is leading a drive right now. He's got the Falcons to their own 40-yard line right now and is still moving.

9:03 p.m.- The Falcons are in their live scrimmage right now and the first play of the night was a good one.

Lawrence Sidbury broke through with a blitz and he got to the quarterback. Though QBs can't be hit tonight, Sidbury reached Ryan in enough time to clear indicate a sack would have occurred in live action. It's nice to see one of the younger guys put up some stats right away in defensive coordinator Mike Nolan's scheme.

8:38 p.m.- Make sure you tune in to around 8:45. The Falcons will be taking a halftime break, but we'll have the "Kia Motors Kick For $5K".

Falcons fan Brian O'Hern will kick three field goals, one from 10 yards, 15 yards and 25  yards. O'Hern will win a prize for every made kick. The first kick will award him an autographed jersey, the second kick wins sideline passes to the home opener and the final kick will be for the $5,000 prize.

8:31  p.m.- We just had one of the first real exciting moments of the practice. Ryan dropped back to pass during the blitz drill and his arch nemesis, cornerback Asante Samuel picked off his pass.

Samuel, as he has made a career doing, read the route and the pass and jumped it for the pick. Because he can disguise his reads so well, he's often in position to not just take away the pass, but take it to the house as well. There's no coincidence that he's called @pick_six22 on Twitter.

I'm glad, and so is Ryan, that Samuel is now on the Falcons' side.

8:21  p.m.- With the 9-on-7 and one-on-one drills over, the Falcons are working through their blitz drill right now. The defense is trying to work on their timing of blitzes while the offense works on dropping back and completing passes as they pick up the blitz. The offensive line, running back and quarterback want to be able to recognize where the blitz is coming from their pre-snap reads and respond accordingly.

The offense is rotating through a lot of players. With Ryan and the first teamers, I've seen White, Douglas, Jones and Meier all lined up in a variety of formations with rotating players in the slot.

Meier continues to impress in training camp. We wrote here on Monday that Ryan likes what he sees out of the third-year receiver.

"Kerry's done a great job, he really has," Ryan said. "I think last year coming off the knee injury, he came back in and did a good job and played in some spot roles for us. I think this year his confidence is back in his leg. He's not worrying about it much. He's just worrying about the things he needs to. He's playing with a lot of confidence. I think he has our system down pretty good. I've been really impressed with him through the spring and the first week of training camp."

8:03 p.m.- The Falcons have split the field right now. On the one end is a 9-on-7 drill, a running session that only features interior players on both sides. The defense features the D-line and linebackers and the offense features five linemen, a tight end or two and a running back.

On the other end is a defensive back and wide receiver drill. This is a particularly exciting one because it's one-on-one and features some pretty nice deep passes. Matt Ryan, Chris Redman and John Parker Wilson are all participating as quarterbacks in this drill. Though the matchups are determined simply by a rotation, once in a while you'll get a really good matchup like one we just had featuring Roddy White and Asante Samuel.

7:54  p.m.- We've got a little bit of breaking news at the moment. The Falcons just announced the signing of Conrad Obi, a defensive lineman from University of Colorado. Six-foot-three, 290 pounds, Obi was originally signed as a college free agent this offseason by the Arizona Cardinals.

The Grayson High School product from just up the road, he started seven games in '11, recording 31 tackles, three passes defensed, one tackle for a loss and a fumble recovery.

7:46 p.m.-It's really too bad you're not here with us, if in fact you're not. We just heard a fantastic rendition of the National Anthem, sang by Christina Davis, a student at Peachtree Ridge High School. The Georgia Army National Guard presented the colors and we were graced with the presence of the United States Army Silver Wings Parachute Team, all the way from Ft Benning.

Here's a nice picture of the final parachuter landing on the field.

The Falcons are now in individual sessions with their position coaches.

7:10 p.m.-I was saying earlier the Falcons players love coming to this event. Everything from the bus ride to the actual playing beneath the lights in a community stadium, they love it all.

Coach Smith spoke yesterday about the event saying while the entire session won't be live, there will be a scrimmage to end the evening that will feature tackling. The tackling will provide the coaches and the players a first glimpse at how well certain guys are understanding schemes exactly what kind of football shape they're actually in. (Though, if they're not in shape by now there's probably a problem. I can tell you from first-hand experience though that these guys are in great shape.)

"It's one of the most fun things for our guys, believe it or not, they love to go back to the high school fields, and get on the grass and play in a small arena. They're going to get a chance to do that on Friday. …We're real excited to go up to Peachtree Ridge and the community over there and having a fun night."

6:53 p.m.-The Falcons are in the middle of a special teams portion of their practice. Much of the evening's practice will be run just like a normal practice session at the Flowery Branch facility . . . minus the music and the extremely large crowd in the bleachers.

As has been the case throughout training camp, Dominique Franks, James Rodgers, Harry Douglas and Tim Toone are fielding punts. Any of those guys has a shot to win the punt returner's job this year, but it looks like Douglas has the early lead because of his experience and success fielding punts in 2008. However, head coach Mike Smith did say earlier in the week that he may want to use a player returning that doesn't start. At this point it's safe to look at Douglas as a starter on offense.

There's more to a special teams session that just catching and kicking though. There are sections of the field where coverage players on returns are working on their technique as well as blocking for returns.

6:35 p.m.- What's up, Falcons fans? We're live at the Lion's Den in Suwanee tonight for Friday Night Lights. This is the fifth year the Falcons have visited an area high school and Peachtree Ridge is our host for the evening.

This is the fourth Friday Night Lights I've been to and I can tell you the players absolutely love this event every year. They bus from the Flowery Branch complex to the game, change into their uniforms in the high school locker room and get to enjoy the intimate setting that only a high school stadium can provide.

I'm in the press box and Jay Adams is down on the field for tonight's action. Follow everything on the Falcons' Twitter account. I'll share some thoughts of my own on Twitter tonight as well, but refresh the live blog all night because I can use more than 140 words here. Look out!

Friday Night Lights is the true beginning of football season for me every year. The Falcons are on the field right now and they officially begin their practice at 6:45 p.m.


For the fifth straight year, the Falcons will take to a high school and scrimmage during the annual Kia Motors Friday Night Lights tonight. This year's scrimmage will take place at Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee, Ga. The event will be open to the public and admission is free.

Those on hand can watch a live scrimmage-styled practice by the Falcons that will include tackling. Additionally there will be a fan fest with interactive inflatable games, sponsor activation, a post-event autograph session and a fireworks show.

General parking is free but limited at Peachtree Ridge High School located at 1555 Old Peachtree Road, Suwanee, Ga.

Once this lot is full, there is free satellite parking available at the Arena at Gwinett Center located at 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth, Ga.

There are free shuttle buses that will take fans from satellite parking to Peachtree Ridge High School starting at 5 p.m.

The highlight of the evening will be a full-speed session that will feature competition between the offense and defense. A scoring system has been devised by head coach Mike Smith to ensure competition. Points are awarded for touchdowns, consecutive first downs, driving the ball inside the 25-yard line, three-and-out possessions and turnovers.

Although some players won't participate in the live-contact portion of the event, including quarterbacks, most players will come to play Friday night with a intensity that rivals a game. For most players, it will be the first opportunity of training camp to wear pads and tackle.

"We want to have some competition and someone is going to have bragging rights at the end of the night," Smith said of the scrimmage. "I think it'll be competitive, and I think the closer we get to the end of that practice and scrimmage the more competitive it will be."

The intimate setting will allow Falcons fans to get closer to their team and during the live scrimmage many players, including quarterbacks, will be mic'd. At halftime, a fan field goal contest will take place with $5,000 in cash as the prize for the kicker plus another fan from the Falcons' Facebook page.

At halftime, Falcons fan Brian O'Hern will participate in the Kia Motors Kick for $5K contest, where he will have a chance to kick a 35-yard field goal to win $5,000 for himself and one person who registered on the Falcons' official Facebook page.

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