Linebacker Ben Leber, one of 10 plaintiffs in the Brady et al v. National Football League et al case, told The Star Tribune on Thursday that he believes the lockout will end in time to begin the regular-season schedule as planned.
"My gut tells me, and this is my own opinion, that it will be an abbreviated training camp," said Leber, who has spent the past five seasons with the Minnesota Vikings but likely will be a free agent after the lockout is over. "We might get in three preseason games. I'm going to guess we'll get in two preseason games. Get our normal couple of days off before the season starts, and I think the season begins the way it should be (on Sept. 8) and is normal."
Leber referenced Thursday's conference call between NFL Players Asssocation executive director DeMaurice Smith and the players, citing a slight uptick in optimism from the decertified union's leader.
"The only thing I'll say about the call was (that) it was nothing enlightening," Leber said. "It was pretty vague, and rightfully so. We've had some issues I think with guys not being totally confidential after those phone calls so it was pretty vague.
"(Smith) did sound a little bit more optimistic than he has in the past, but very cautiously optimistic. I think that things are moving in the right direction. It sounds like there are a lot of things that have been talked about, nothing totally agreed upon, but I think they are making progress."
Even though Leber's status with the Vikings remains undetermined, he has gone out of his way to answer teammates' questions about the labor negotiations.
"I still try to maintain a leadership role with the Vikings, even though I'm technically not employed by them anymore," Leber said. "But nonetheless guys still have my email and I have those guys (email). I've been in contact with them, not really recently because everything has been pretty stagnant, but definitely that March, April period when things were hot and heavy and there were a lot of questions."