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Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Updated: July 6, 10:14 AM ET
NFL talks: Lawyers work on language

By Chris Mortensen
ESPN

Negotiations between the NFL and NFL players resumed Tuesday in New York, but the first two days are designated for work done by both sides' lawyers, primarily on the language of a potential agreement.

There is no expectation that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith will be participating together in the talks until Thursday and Friday, when the lead negotiating teams resume face-to-face discussions.

Sources on both sides maintain there remains significant work to be completed after negotiations almost disintegrated last week before "getting back on track." The same sources say that an agreement is within reach but unlikely to be achieved this week.

However, the attorneys' work on language is aimed at an expedited finishing process in the event the two sides do strike an agreement. Tuesday is Day 112 of the lockout.

Both sides agree that negotiations are delicate.

Training camps start at the end of the month, with the preseason-opening Hall of Fame Game scheduled Aug. 7 between the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams.

Even missing an exhibition game or two would begin to cost the league money, not to mention test the faith of the fans who have made this sport so big.

Pro Football Hall of Fame president Steve Perry told ESPN's Sal Paolantonio Tuesday that the Hall of Fame Game is still on track. Perry said the Bears and Rams have told the Hall of Fame they plan to play in the game, but to do so, both teams would have to begin training camp the third week in July -- which means the labor negotiators are cutting it extremely close.

Chris Mortensen is ESPN's senior NFL analyst. Information from ESPN national correspondent Sal Paolantonio and The Associated Press was used in this report.