The NFL lockout is still chugging along, but news came down on Thursday afternoon that seems to be of the positive variety for those hoping the 2011 NFL season begins on time.
According to a release from the NFL Labor News website, the recent judicial rulings will allow players to return to business as usual beginning Friday morning at 7 a.m. following the first round of the NFL draft on Thursday evening.
The release basically states that the players can return to practicing at the Minnesota Vikings practice facility, but the front offices will have to continue to wait to get back to business until the official beginning of the 2011 League Year (which should be sooner rather than later). Until then, no transactions -- signings, trades of player contracts, terminations, tryouts, etc. -- can be made.
Regardless, this seems to be inching fans closer toward the goal of having the 2011 NFL season begin on time considering the players are now allowed to do the following things (as summarized by SB Nation's Joel Thorman):
-Players will be allowed in the building for physicals, rehab and other medical treatment.
-Teams can hand out playbooks and game film to the players.
-Coaches can meet with players to discuss the playbooks, game film and the offseason schedule.
-Voluntary offseason workouts can begin and players will be eligible for workout bonuses in their contracts.
-On non-workout days, players can use the facility to work out on their own.
-Mandatory and voluntary minicamps can begin.
-Those in the NFL's substance abuse or steroid programs can begin receiving counseling, rehab and treatment.
-Players can begin participating in team-sponsored charitable events.
So while the NFL lockout isn't quite over, it does appear to be coming closer to an end.