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Rise Up Friday Hypes Fans for Opener

Falcons fans celebrated Rise Up Friday across Atlanta attending events where they could meet cheerleaders and former players and also enter to win Falcons tickets and other gear.

The start of the Atlanta Falcons season is less than two days away and for most fans, it can't get here fast enough. The Falcons Fan Patrol was out in full force all across Atlanta on Friday afternoon for events at different locations for the Rise Up Friday Kickoff, presented by YP.

At a local SunTrust bank, former Falcons cornerback Ray Buchanan met with fans and signed memorabilia. Like other players, current and former, Buchanan enjoys supporting the Falcons whenever he's asked.

"It feels good," Buchanan said. "...(From) the promotions all the way through to the marketing department, you see how much involved everybody else is besides the guys on the field."

Buchanan will be at Sunday's game against the Saints and is looking forward to watching the Falcons newly revamped offensive line, especially now that the much talked about Roddy White-Julio Jones duo is healthy.

That's not the only thing Buchanan will be watching. He's noticed a new chemistry within the team and really likes where he sees it going.

"There's not one bigger player than the other," said Buchanan. "Everybody is starting to play as a cohesive unit."

And that's exactly what owner and chairman Arthur Blank and general manager Thomas Dimitroff have been doing over the past few years by drafting players who will "buy in to the system," Buchanan said.

Buchanan talked football with each fan he met and posed for pictures, putting a noticeable smile on their faces as they walked away. But it was hard to tell who enjoyed the event more, Buchanan or the fans.

"For me, growing up as a Falcons fan and watching him (Buchanan) on TV, it's actually really special," said Mia McLeod, current football player with the Atlanta Phoenix. "It's kind of cool looking at your idols and having a chance to meet with and talk to them, and, because I also play football, just having the chance to relate to them and share similar experiences about the game."

While fans mingled and talked with Buchanan, the Falcons Fan Patrol was on the sidewalk cheering cars as they drove into the parking lot and waved to passersby. Music blared from a nearby car providing an energetic atmosphere. Games of corn hole sat near the tent providing food and beverages to the fans. 

The excitement for the start of the season was palpable amongst the crowd. Chatter about Sunday's game and the position groups everyone would be watching was heard, as well as season predictions.

12-4, 13-3, 11-5.

"It can only get better," said McLeod. "I say 12-4 simply because we always fight with our division. I think it's doable. I don't think it's impossible."

Thirty-year-old Corey Whisby took a safer approach to the topic.

"I actually think they are going to do pretty well," said Whisby. "We've just got to make sure we take care of New Orleans. That's the first order of business."

With events like the Rise Up Friday Kickoff providing fans a good time prior to the kickoff of the 2014 season, it's "the kind of atmosphere you want to be around," said 33-year-old Kovaski Jones.

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