Sanders' return delayed another day

OWINGS MILLS – Deion Sanders' expected return to the Baltimore Ravens stalled again as the veteran nickel back flew to New York on Tuesday to have his surgically repaired toe examined by the doctor who performed the procedure.

Sanders, who turns 38 in August, flew back to the team's training complex Tuesday night and indicated in a brief interview that he hadn't been cleared medically before leaving with his children. Team officials confirmed that Sanders' doctor hadn't communicated his prognosis to the Ravens' medical staff as of early Tuesday night.

"I'm still waiting," Sanders told a small group of reporters. "I wish I did know."

Sanders underwent minor surgery on a toe in his left foot after a season where he was limited to nine games with toe and hamstring injuries. Sanders ran laps around the practice field without incident after returning from his doctor's visit, saying that was part of his extended physical.

When asked if he thought he would be cleared to practice Wednesday, Sanders replied, "Hopefully, pray for me."

Sanders hasn't signed a contract -- pending passing a physical -- but has agreed in principle to a one-year, $1.5 million contract that could be worth as much as $4 million if playing-time incentives are triggered. The team is taking a cautious approach, which is understandable considering Sanders' age and recent medical history.

The results of the seven-time Pro Bowl cornerback's magnetic resonance imaging exam were overnighted Monday to his doctor, who was scheduled to discuss them Tuesday with Leigh Ann Curl, the team's chief orthopedic surgeon.

Sanders ended a three-year retirement last season and finished second on the team with three interceptions in his first action since 2001. He was one of three NFL players to intercept three passes despite playing in less than 10 games.

"We have to send him to the proper people," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "Unlike you all sometimes, I'm not going to speculate on things I don't know. Because of the nature of the injury, the surgery, we want to make sure we've got everybody on board and his doctor and the experts in New York. It's logistics."

J. LEWIS UPDATE: One day after Jamal Lewis' request to leave a halfway house to attend minicamp next week was denied by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Billick said the team plans to send coaches, trainer Bill Tessendorf and the Charlotte, N.C., doctor who operated on Lewis' ankle to visit the running back in Atlanta.

"It's a little frustrating," Billick said. "Him missing the minicamps is unfortunate, but not insurmountable. He looks great.

"He works hard. It's making sure he has the right people making sure he's doing the right things in the right sequence."

HEAP UPDATE: Tight end Todd Heap resumed running Monday after ankle surgery.

Heap said he expects to be able to take part in some activity at the beginning of training camp as he also recovers from recent shoulder surgery.

"It felt great, it wasn't terribly sore," Heap said regarding his ankle. "I'm looking forward to being more active. I'm very excited and positive about it.

"There's a little hesitation. It's getting a lot better now, and it's coming along a lot quicker."

STAFF CHANGES: The Ravens promoted Tessendorf, the second-longest tenured trainer in the NFL after 33 years, to vice president of medical services.

"Bill has long been recognized as one of, if not the best, trainers in the NFL," general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement regarding the Carroll County resident. "Players trust his judgment and treatment."

Pat Moriarty, the team's top contract negotiator, was promoted to vice president of football administration.

The Ravens officially announced the hire of Lionel Vital as national scout and Andy Weidl as West Coast scout. The personnel department issued new assignments to scouts Chad Alexander (Midwest), Daniel Jeremiah (West) and Jeremiah Washburn (Southwest), and hired Roy Anderson, Mark Azevedo and Milt Hendrickson as player personnel assistants.

QUICK HITS: Rookie wide receiver Mark Clayton caught two long touchdown passes from quarterback Kyle Boller, outleaping cornerback Samari Rolle both times in an acrobatic display. "Terrell Suggs, I don't think he knew who No. 89 was, and he said, ‘Man, that guy's going to make the team,'" Heap said. "He better make the team, he's our first pick." … Linebacker Ray Lewis, safety Ed Reed and offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden attended practice. Lewis declined interview requests, saying he was taking Sanders' son to lunch. Reed didn't comment, either. … Offensive guard Edwin Mulitalo (triceps) didn't practice.

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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