Coach Brian Billick confirmed that the Ravens are expecting a final decision from Deion Sanders by Monday on whether the former Pro Bowl cornerback will end his retirement and play for the team this season.
If Sanders is coming back, Ravens officials want him to be ready by the Sept. 12 season opener in Cleveland. That means the 37-year-old defender would need to report by next week, before the team plays its final preseason game Sept. 2.
"Certainly we'd love to have him in," Billick said.
League sources continue to say Sanders is strongly leaning toward ending a three-year layoff to become the Ravens' nickel back (fifth defensive back). He is working out at his home outside of Dallas to test his conditioning.
Asked whether Sanders would play in the preseason finale against the host New York Giants if he reports early next week, Billick said, "That would be our hope."
Among those convinced that Sanders will return is Tom Shaw, his personal trainer. Sanders recently hired Shaw, one of the country's most highly regarded trainers, to intensify his conditioning efforts.
In an interview on Sporting News Radio, Shaw said, "Oh, he's coming back. Just by watching him, he's better than a lot of guys that I've worked with already."
Shaw said he expects Sanders to make his decision after his last round of workouts.
"Deion is going to make that call after we time him [today]," Shaw said. "Then, on Friday, we are going to go through a whole game series and then he'll make that call. If he feels he's ready, then he'll do it."