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LATROBE (KDKA) — The Pittsburgh Steelers were back under the lights for the team’s annual Night Practice at Latrobe Memorial Stadium on Friday.

Thousands of fans packed the stands.

The players arrived around 6:30 p.m. and signed autographs for a short time before hitting the field for the two-hour practice.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Players and fans alike say they enjoy the atmosphere.

“It’s great energy,” said Artie Burns, Steelers cornerback. “We have fun with the fans, under the lights, it’s Friday, it’s a fun environment.”

“We’ve been doing this for about four years now,” said one of the fans who came out to watch. “I retired four years ago from the military, so I’ve been all over the country. We miss Pittsburgh, so we decided in a spare moment, hey, let’s come up to training camp, ‘cause we never did it before, and loved it, enjoyed it; and so after that, we decided every year if we’re going to come up here for training camp, we’re going to do Friday night lights.”

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Many fans have high hopes for the season.

“We’re going all the way,” said another fan. “It’s gonna be the Stairway to Seven this year. If everyone stays healthy and they pick up a good secondary, now that Shazier’s out, we’ll go.”

“I think they’re going to have to get improved run defense. I think they’ll square that away and everything’s going to be a lot better on defense this year. Really, the offense is there, so a lot of the players are back this year, and I think they’re going to go a long way,” a third fan said.

The highlight for many who come out every year is the goal line drill.

But, for the Steelers, the experience takes them back to a time when their love of the game was just starting to grow.

“I think it’s pretty cool, because at some point in everyone’s career, you remember those days riding on the bus, going to a high school on Friday night lights,” said Steelers safety Morgan Burnett. “Before you could get here, you had to get through it there, and I think it’s real cool to go back to those days and memories.”

The practice is followed by fireworks a fireworks show for all the fans.