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Second day of talks between NFL, players ongoing in Maryland

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and several owners are meeting with NFL Players Association chief DeMaurice Smith and a group of players for a second consecutive day in Maryland.

A person with knowledge of the talks told The Associated Press that the negotiations have continued Wednesday and they again include lawyers for both sides. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the meeting are not being made public.

Sources told NFL Network's Albert Breer on Tuesday that both the NFL and NFL Players Association are evaluating and strongly considering concessions on all fronts, and that has led to a belief that a deal could be done in two to four weeks. The return of the legal teams for both parties, after sitting out the sessions in suburban Chicago and Long Island, N.Y., the past two weeks, is seen as a sign of progress.

Both sides entered the negotiations seeing a "window of opportunity" of roughly 30 days to resolve the labor situation. The owners are planning to meet once a month until the situation is resolved.

Cincinnati Bengals player representative Andrew Whitworth, appearing on NFL.com's "Cover Two Podcast" Tuesday, told hosts Steve Wyche and Bucky Brooks that he foresees an agreement that would allow for football to continue on schedule.

"All along we just needed to sit down together," Whitworth said. "The problem we really had before was nobody could get around the attorneys and lawyers and all these kinds of things and just talk and figure this thing out. Finally we got a chance where you've got owners and players and DeMaurice Smith and all those guys sitting face-to-face and negotiating.

"That's how you get a deal done. You don't hire an attorney to get you a contract when you get drafted. You get an agent to negotiate. Once we got around the legal stuff, we started to make ground and I think we're really close."

The parties met for three days outside Chicago two weeks ago, in the days leading up to the June 3 injunction appeal hearing before the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and again last week for two days on Long Island.

It's been 95 days since the NFL locked out the players, with this past Sunday marking three months. There are still 86 days until the 2011 NFL Kickoff on Thursday, Sept. 8 in Green Bay, but the league and players are working toward an agreement that would preserve training camps and the entire preseason.

The league estimates that the cancellation of the preseason could cost it as much as $1 billion. Whether that figure is accurate or not, both parties recognize that the major economic losses that would be incurred by this dispute dragging through the summer would make negotiations exponentially tougher.

Sources say internal deadlines to have some semblance of a "normal" preseason with the games preserved sit on or around July 15.

To this point, labor committee members Jerry Richardson (Carolina Panthers), Robert Kraft (New England Patriots), John Mara (New York Giants), Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys), Art Rooney (Pittsburgh Steelers), Clark Hunt (Kansas City Chiefs) and Dean Spanos (San Diego Chargers), active players Mike Vrabel (Kansas City Chiefs), Tony Richardson (New York Jets), Domonique Foxworth (Baltimore Ravens) and Jeff Saturday (Indianapolis Colts), NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and NFLPA president Kevin Mawae have taken part in the "secret" meetings.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan, who ran court-ordered mediation between the NFL and players in Minneapolis in April and May, also has been involved but is serving in a different capacity at these summits.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.*

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