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Under the Lights


What happens when an NFL franchise takes over a high school football stadium?

If you don't know, you'll find out tonight if you're at the Atlanta Falcons' fourth annual "Kia Motors Friday Night Lights".

Tonight the Falcons will don the pads and helmets and continue their week of padded practices.

The team will practice tonight, but the event at Norcross High School will look a little different than previous years. Last season the offense won a scrimmage using head coach Mike Smith's unique scoring system 39-22, but tonight is less about the winners and losers as the scrimmage will be only part of the evening.

In Smith's words, it's the first time his players really get to play the game of football and he loves the opportunity to evaluate his team under those circumstances with exactly one week to go before the first preseason game. Much like last year, the veterans will play limited roles. Friday Night Lights is more about letting the players battling for jobs and roster spots air it out on the field.

Last year we saw defensive tackle Corey Peters wreaking havoc on the line of scrimmage, Kerry Meier make big catches (including one catch and run for 30 yards) and running back Antone Smith score on a 30-yard screen pass.

For all the players, FNL is an opportunity to continue the training camp tradition of fan interaction and stroll down memory lane to their own high school glory days, including 's 89-yard touchdown run as a prep tight end.

We hope to see you in Norcross tonight. Almost all of us have traditions and memories of Friday football games. For Falcons rookies, they'll have a new type of Friday-night memory after tonight. Someone will chose tonight to shine in front of Smith's watchful eye this evening. The best part is the Falcons only get better because of what happens under the lights tonight.

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