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Owners, players back in room for talks

MINNEAPOLIS — Commissioner Roger Goodell and players association head DeMaurice Smith met again Thursday, expanding labor-deal talks to include owners and players for the first time this week.

Sitting down with U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan at a law firm were a handful of owners — the Giants' John Mara, the Chiefs' Clark Hunt , the Cowboys' Jerry Jones and the Patriots' Robert Kraft — and players including the Colts' Jeff Saturday, the Chiefs' Brian Waters and the Ravens' Domonique Foxworth.

Late in the afternoon, the union had a half-hour conference call to update players, the Associated Press reported. No big news was announced.

The sides ordered in a late dinner and continued to meet into the night, with their session going past 13 hours.

The latest talks aimed at ending the NFL's longest work stoppage began Tuesday, with Goodell, Smith, their attorneys and staffs. The leaders left the table to address rookies at an orientation symposium in Sarasota on Wednesday. They also visited the Bucs' player-organized minicamp in Bradenton before flying back to Minnesota.

Minneapolis is where the players have filed a pending federal antitrust lawsuit against the owners. The sides met there for six days of court-ordered mediation under Boylan in April and May. The July Fourth holiday weekend has been floated by some of the members of each side as a rough target for a deal. The lockout began March 12.

Bengals: Receiver Chad Ochocinco says he doesn't know where his strained relationship with coach Marvin Lewis stands. "Maybe he doesn't like me for real. He doesn't like me, well, I don't like him, either," Ochocinco said to Atlanta radio station WQXI-AM of the coach, who has been publicly critical of him. "Maybe he's trying to do this to show (owner) Mike Brown, 'I don't think I can coincide with Chad,' but … I can't coincide with him, either, and if he really feels that way, when I see him, I'm going to whoop his (rear end)."

49ers: Former starting center Eric Heitmann is expected to miss the season because of neck surgery for a ruptured disc. Tackle Joe Staley told the San Francisco Chronicle the injury happened last summer at a practice during coach Mike Singletary's "nutcracker" drill, in which two players go head to head and try to push each other back. Heitmann missed last season with a broken leg. Asked Thursday about Heitmann's injury, Singletary told CSNBayArea he had no comment.

Owners, players back in room for talks 07/01/11 [Last modified: Friday, July 1, 2011 12:53am]

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