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New Falcon Samuel gives fans glimpse of future

Staff Photo: John Bohn Atlanta Falcons starting quarterback Matt Ryan drops back into the pocket while full back Mike Cox (42) watches the play unfold during a Friday Night Lights practice at Peachtree Ridge High School.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Atlanta Falcons starting quarterback Matt Ryan drops back into the pocket while full back Mike Cox (42) watches the play unfold during a Friday Night Lights practice at Peachtree Ridge High School.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Michael Calvin (15) makes a catch while covered by cornerback Robert McClain. The Falcons held a Friday Night Lights practice at Peachtree Ridge High School.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Atlanta Falcons defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi follows a ball runner during a Friday Night Lights practice at Peachtree Ridge High School.

SUWANEE -- Atlanta Falcon fans got their first glimpse of this year's team in action on Friday.

In particular offseason free agent pick up Asante Samuel.

The 10-year veteran, known around the league as pick six gave fans a flash of that during the Falcons' first scrimmage of training camp.

"That's just a glimpse for later in the year," Samuel said with a big grin. "I'm happy to please the fans and help my teammates and be productive."

Samuel's interception for a touchdown was one of the big plays that drew the excitement of a packed Peachtree Ridge High School stadium.

"Another Friday Night Lights done," said Falcons head coach Mike Smith with traditional ear-to-ear smile. "I hope the fans enjoyed it. Our guys love it. It's a great time for them. They are off campus, they are back to where they started playing football in a high school setting."

It's the fifth year the Falcons have held Friday Night Lights at a Gwinnett school. The event has previously been held at Norcross, North Gwinnett, Brookwood and Mill Creek.

The practice had a local flavor to it with three Gwinnett grads on the field. Parkview grad Michael Palmer is in his third year with Falcons, Central Gwinnett grad Jonathan Massaquoi was drafted in the fifth round and Brookwood grad Dawson Zimmerman was an undrafted free agent. The Falcons announced the addition of another Gwinnett grad on Friday. Grayson's Conrad Obi, who was an undrafted free agent by the Arizona Cardinals, was signed.

"I never got to play here in high school," Palmer said. "But it's always neat to come back and play on a high school field."

Palmer was used extensively in new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter's offense, blocking as a tight end and running routes. He will back up future hall of famer Tony Gonzalez, who is expected to retire at the end of the season.

"I think I did good," Palmer said. "It's nice to come out here when we've been in camp all week."

Fans got a glimpse of the first-team offense during blitz pick-up drills against the defense. It was the only game-situation action fans to got see quarterback Matt Ryan throw.

Ryan threw a nice 80-yard touchdown pass to Roddy White during the drills, but was later intercepted by Samuel.

"So far the players have really adapted to Coach Koetter and the offense," Palmer said. "It's similar to what we've done in the past, but with a little more shots (down field) and screen game. We're enjoying it."

The practice ended with a scrimmage between the second team offense and defense. Lawrence Sidbury shined with a pair of sacks on the first drive. The defense led the entire four series scrimmage until the offense converted a first down for the 7-6 victory.

"It was our first time playing football for an extended amount of time," Smith said. "In terms of tackling, we had a little three play scrimmage at the end of practice a couple days of days ago, but this is the first extensive tackling that we've did and full speed blocking. It was good to see the guys compete. I thought both sides of the ball did some nice things. Before I watch the tape, it's really hard to evaluate who did things well and who didn't."

The Falcons will practice at another Georgia high school next week. The team will scrimmage the Tennessee Titans on Monday at Coahulla Creek High School in Dalton.

The Falcons' first pre-season game is Thursday against the Baltimore Ravens at the Georgia Dome.

"We still have a lot of work to do before that first preseason game," Smith said. "I'm really excited about going to North Georgia to have the opportunity to work against the Tennessee Titans."