Will owners vote to end lockout? Will players?

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“We want to go back to work, but we will not agree to a deal unless it’s the best deal for the players,” Mawae said. “The players are not tied to a July 21 timeline. Our timeline is that which gives us the best deal for the players _ today, tomorrow or whatever it might be.”

If the NFL’s first work stoppage since 1987 is going to end in time to keep the preseason completely intact, the players and owners almost certainly must ratify the deal by Thursday. The St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears are scheduled to open the preseason Aug. 7 in the Hall of Fame game.

Asked whether that exhibition game will be played, Pash replied: “We’ll see. It’s getting tight. It would be pretty challenging. That’s one of the things we’ll have to focus on.”

If a new deal is worked out and ratified, the 32 teams won’t be done in Atlanta. Team executives would be schooled later Thursday and Friday in the guidelines and how to apply them; topics would include the 2011 NFL calendar, rookie salary system and new free agency rules.

Ten players _ including quarterbacks Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson and Patriots guard Logan Mankins _ filed their antitrust suit March 11. That was the day the country’s most popular sports league was thrown into limbo, and the owners locked out players hours later.

“Obviously, there’s the litigation with the named plaintiffs, and I am not familiar with the whole legal part of it. … But at the end of the day,” Mawae said, “the deal we are working on is the deal that’s best for all the players in the NFL, and not just four guys.”

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AP National Writer Paul Newberry and AP Sports Writer Charles Odum in College Park, Ga., contributed to this to report.

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Follow Howard Fendrich at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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