Ravens coach has Deion plan mapped

Updated: August 23, 2004, 9:41 PM ET
ESPN.com

Ravens coach Brian Billick told ESPN's Andrea Kremer on Monday that he expects Deion Sanders to make a final decision by Aug. 30 on whether he will play for Baltimore this season.

The Ravens play Detroit on Aug. 28 and finish the preseason Sept. 2 against the New York Giants. Billick did not say whether Deion would play in that preseason game if he decided to return.

The 37-year-old cornerback is working out at his Dallas home to determine if he is physically able to play football after being in retirement three years.

Billick said he is hoping to get 25 to 30 snaps a game out of Sanders in their nickel defensive scheme -- Gary Baxter would move inside on the nickel and Sanders to the outside -- but depending on what happens with holdout Chris McAllister, Sanders could see additional snaps.

The Ravens have told Sanders that if he wants to end his retirement, he would be welcome to join the team.

"He's obviously doing his due diligence to see if this is something he really wants to do," Billick told reporters last week. "Certainly we'd love to have him in, and when we get to that point, he'll be in."

Ravens safety Corey Fuller, a good friend of Sanders, isn't so sure that Sanders is ready to play again. Sanders was a Redskin when he formally announced his retirement the day before Washington opened camp in 2001.

"I talk to him every day," Fuller said last week. "I know what he's going to do. The man said he's not coming. He's got four kids. It's not because he can't play anymore. It's just that the man has a lot going on outside of football."

But the Ravens are convinced that Sanders is still making up his mind.

If Sanders decides to play for the Ravens, defensive coordinator Mike Nolan would happily draw up a game plan that would include him in the backfield.

"Adding depth is one thing, but adding quality depth is a whole different thing," Nolan said. "A player like that comes along, we'll do what fits that player. It will allow us to be more aggressive than we already are. A player like that allows you to do just about anything."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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