Negotiations completed for the day and likely the week, NFL owners are setting sights on their upcoming meeting in Chicago. Many players are looking beyond then -- with optimism -- toward getting back to work.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and several owners completed two days of talks Wednesday with NFL Players Association chief DeMaurice Smith and a group of players in Maryland. A person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press that the two sides have been making progress at several such meetings in the past three weeks.
The person, who spoke anonymously because details of the discussions aren't supposed to be made public, also said a new collective bargaining agreement is not imminent.
Nonetheless, several players expressed confidence that a deal will get done soon and training camps will open on time late in July.
"I know that we've been talking pretty extensively over the last few weeks," said New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees , one of 10 players whose names are on an antitrust lawsuit against the league. "It seems like things are moving in the right direction, which is very positive. It's what we always hoped for as players because obviously we're getting to crunch time here."
Close enough to it.
Although no deadlines have been set for the opening of camps, the 32 teams soon must decide whether to delay them, particularly those clubs that stage a portion of camp out of town. Settling early in July almost certainly would provide for full training camps at previously planned locations.
"I think everyone kind of has that feeling, that this thing's starting to end," said Bengals tackle Andrew Whitworth , the team's player representative. "I feel like that's the attitude that everybody has, and you can see everybody preparing that way.
"When you look at the timeline for both sides, it starts to get real serious around this time."
USO TOUR: Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt , a Richmond Academy graduate, and Houston Texans' coach Gary Kubiak will visit troops in the Persian Gulf this summer on an NFL USO tour.
The father-and-son Moras will also take part in the third annual coaches tour.
Whisenhunt's father and brother served in the military.