Deion's expected return hits a snag (UPDATED 6PM)

OWINGS MILLS – Veteran nickel back Deion Sanders' expected return to the Baltimore Ravens hit a medical snag Monday when a surgeon was unavailable to complete his physical.

The seven-time Pro Bowl cornerback is expected to learn the results of a magnetic resonance imaging exam today, according to team spokesman Chad Steele. The team had tentatively planned a Monday press conference to announce Sanders' return, but that has been delayed pending the results of his physical.

Team officials did not indicate concern over whether Sanders is healthy enough to return for a 14th NFL season. Sanders' agent, Eugene Parker, didn't return telephone calls.

Sanders, who turns 38 in August, underwent minor toe surgery after an injury-plagued season where he was limited to nine games because of toe and hamstring injuries.

Sanders left the Ravens' training complex Monday afternoon in a sport utility vehicle without commenting on his status.

Sanders has agreed in principle to a one-year, $1.5 million contract that could earn him as much as $4 million if incentives are triggered. Sanders would likely earn $3 million if he is available for nickel duty for the entire season.

Before undergoing his physical, Sanders confirmed in an interview that he had agreed to contract terms.

"I've been in [the equivalent] of two-a-days since around June 1, when I started working out again with my trainer, so I'm basically going to have a two-month head start over where I was last year when I came back," Sanders told ESPN.com. "I feel good. Really good.

"And when I felt good last year, when I wasn't hurt, I played well. So, with all the training I've done to get ready again, I know I'll have some fun. It's going to be a good time."

Sanders ended a three-year retirement last season and finished second on the team with three interceptions, returning one for a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills.

Sanders is expected to split time in the Ravens' nickel and dime packages with Dale Carter, 35, who missed all of last season with a blood clot in his lungs. A four-time Pro Bowl selection, Carter, 35, is healthy again and off blood thinners.

Meanwhile, the team confirmed that linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed attended the first day of a four-day voluntary minicamp that began Monday. Practice was closed to the media, and coaches and players were unavailable for comment as the team held an administrative day.

Lewis and Reed had skipped all previous voluntary minicamps, spurring speculation that they were unhappy with their contracts. The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Reed has two years remaining on his original rookie contract and is slated to make $550,000 this season.

Lewis, a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, has four years remaining on his contract after signing a seven-year, $50 million contract in 2002 that included a $19 million signing bonus. His base salary for the 2005 season is $5.5 million, according to NFL Players' Association documents.

NOTE: Voting on superlatives celebrating the Ravens' 10th anniversary begins today at 2 p.m. on the team's Web site: www.baltimoreravens.com


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