- Associated Press - Friday, April 29, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - On one of the busiest days of the year for the NFL, teams were plotting not only how to land the best draft picks but just how to let their most-prized employees return to work.

Welcome back, players.

For now, at least.

The NFL cleared the way for some of its basic football operations to begin Friday, five days after a federal judge declared the lockout illegal and nearly seven weeks after it began. Players can talk with coaches, work out at team headquarters and look at their playbooks.

“Everybody’s tired of sitting around, laying around,” Denver Broncos linebacker Joe Mays said. “We’ve had enough of that. Now, we’re trying to get back to business.”

New York Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes said he planned to be at team headquarters.

“I am looking forward to catching up with everyone in the entire organization,” Tynes said.

Count Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay among the eager.

“It’s always good to see the guys,” he said Thursday night.

The San Francisco 49ers were among the handful of teams with new staffs _ they hired Jim Harbaugh as head coach in January _ who haven’t even been able to meet their players.

“It’s time to get back to coaching,” general manager Trent Baalke said.

Fans, too, are desperate for a football fix.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was roundly booed Thursday night when he first appeared on the Radio City Music Hall stage for the draft. As fans chanted, “We want football,” Goodell acknowledged the message, saying “I hear you.”

The NFL also was expected to release on Friday detailed guidelines for free agency, trades and other roster moves in the absence of a collective bargaining agreement. That expired March 11, the same day the players’ union was disbanded to clear the way for a court fight.

That fight is far from over despite the halting steps back toward football. The league has asked the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis to restore the lockout as soon as possible, hoping for a friendlier venue than the federal courts in Minnesota.

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