Team, staff ready for Friday Night Lights

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FLOWERY BRANCH, GA — For the first seven days of training camp, the Falcons have been in a strict routine at their training camp facility. Not much has changed since the first day — with the exception of a couple of days when practice times changed.

Tonight offers the team and staff a welcome change of pace as the Falcons will hold their first team scrimmage of the 2010 preseason at 7:30 p.m. at North Gwinnett High School.

"It's cool. It's a game, kind of. You've got fans, you've got people cheering, so it's fun," cornerback Brent Grimes said. "It's something different and it breaks the monotony, so it's definitely fun to do."

The Friday Night Lights event is really a second-generation event, director of event marketing and client services Julio Jones said. The event, previously known as the Midtown Touchdown, was held at Grady High School in Atlanta for two years and included a fan festival at Piedmont Park.

A watering ban in the city of Atlanta during head coach Mike Smith's first season with the team forced the Falcons to move the event. Smith, after being hired, said he wanted to do a live scrimmage at a local high school. It was the perfect change for the Falcons to take the event and morph it into what is now Friday Night Lights.

The event has since been held at Mill Creek High School and Brookwood High School.

"The only qualification we have to meet is that the coach and the players want it on natural grass," White said of the selection process. "We go out and we just look for high schools in the area that — it doesn't have to be a huge stadium; it just has to have enough capacity so we can accommodate enough fans."

Tonight's event will include meet-and-greets with players, fireworks and plenty of festivities. Gates will open at 6 p.m., but White has encouraged people to tailgate throughout the day. The scrimmage will kick off at 7: 30 p.m.

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