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Fifty days from a potential lockout by NFL owners, the NFL Players Association is bracing for the worst and "reality is starting to set in," according to George Atallah, the union's assistant executive director of external affairs.

Atallah, Ravens cornerback Domonique Foxworth and Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita participated on a conference call with reporters on Tuesday and painted a dire picture on prospects for a settlement before the league's collective bargaining agreement expires March 3. Foxworth and Fujita serve on the NFLPA's executive committee.

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For Foxworth, a six-year veteran who spent the season on injured reserve, reality is losing health insurance when the CBA expires. Foxworth and his wife, Ashley, had a daughter, Avery, in early December and now face the prospect of having to replace his existing insurance policy.

"We had a daughter five weeks ago and they're threatening to cut off my insurance when March hits," Foxworth said. "I'm on IR [injured reserve]. I've given up my body to help advance the league."

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Foxworth tore ligaments in his knee in the first practice of training camp and has missed the season.

Fujita said he has counseled his teammates in Cleveland to "put money away" for a lockout. "I know in our locker room, we are prepared."

Fujita also said that he was told by the Browns' trainer that as of March 4, the trainer "no longer is able to communicate with players. … Guys are going to be on their own" in regard to treatment of injuries and post-surgery rehabilitation.

The league wants significant givebacks from the union in negotiations. In a plan to increase revenue, the owners want to add two games to the schedule, giving players an 18-game regular-season schedule plus playoffs and preseason.

Fujita said the way the 18-game format has been proposed "is completely unacceptable," saying that the league has not made concessions as far as post-career benefits or health insurance. "It's a slap in the face," he said.

Foxworth said the entire health care and health safety program needs to be overhauled in the event of an 18-game season.

The players were also asked whether there would be interest in forming a new league. The question appeared to catch them off guard.

"Once the contract expires, all bets are off," Atallah interjected.

Said Fujita: "It absolutely could happen."

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