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WHEN IT COMES TO DEION, EVERYONE'S AN ADMIRER

The Buffalo Bills will get a taste of Prime Time when they visit the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

Perennial All-Pro cornerback Deion Sanders ended his three-year retirement to play for the Ravens, and the Bills receivers are looking forward to playing against the future Hall of Famer.

"I have a great respect for him," said Eric Moulds. "He's a good friend of mine. But at the same time, I know he's going to be up for the challenge, and it's a challenge for me to go out and play."

Moulds said he and Sanders spoke regularly during Sanders' retirement, talking about players in the league and life in general. But Moulds never got an indication Sanders was considering a comeback.

At age 37, Sanders doesn't have the great speed and athleticism that made him arguably the best ever to play his position. But after watching him on film, Moulds said Sanders is still pretty good.

"Actually, to me he looks like one of their better cover guys," Moulds said. "He's so smart and has played a long time, so he knows exactly where he is supposed to be at all times. He still looks like Deion."

For the younger Bills who grew up watching Sanders, Sunday's game will be one to remember.

"This is something you can tell your kids, that you played against Deion," said receiver Josh Reed, who was 9 when Sanders broke into the league in 1989. "It's going to be fun to see him out there. You can tell he's lost a step or two, but he's in good shape, he knows how to play the game, and it's going to be an honor to be on the same field."

Paying homage to Sanders is nothing new. It still goes on in his home state of Florida.

"He's a Florida icon," said Bills running back Travis Henry, a native of the Sunshine State. "I've been following him since I was coming up. A lot of people respect his game and what he brings to the game. You say Deion's name, it catches people's attention because everybody wants to talk about Deion. Now that he's come back, everybody wants to talk about him even more."

The Bills signed defensive coordinator Jerry Gray to a contract extension Thursday. The terms were not disclosed. Gray was in the final year of a contract that had been extended prior to last season.

The new deal gives the Bills a chance to maintain some continuity on defense beyond this year. It also decreases the likelihood Gray might be lured away after the season.

Gray has developed a strong reputation around the NFL. The Bills' defense has steadily improved each year since Gray became coordinator in 2001, ranking second in the NFL in total yards allowed last season and eighth this year.

Henry anticipates he'll be in the starting lineup Sunday. He missed Sunday's win over Miami because of a sprained arch in his left foot.

Although Henry is listed as questionable, he hasn't missed any practice time this week.

"It's well enough so I could play," he said. "I got some rest on it. I've been training well. There's a little pain in there, but for the most part I feel better, way better than I was last week."

Henry has extra motivation to get back on the field. Willis McGahee was impressive while rushing for over 100 yards against the Dolphins.

The two are expected to share the load Sunday, but coach Mike Mularkey made it clear earlier this week that Henry is still the No. 1 back.

"I didn't have any indication that I wasn't going to be the starter off of one game," Henry said. "I'm going in excited to be back out there."

Left tackle Jonas Jennings, who practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, participated in all drills Thursday. He's listed as probable for Sunday's game. Center Trey Teague (leg) rode a stationary bike during practice and remains doubtful.

There were happy Boston Red Sox fans in the Bills' locker room. Safety Lawyer Milloy was heard chanting, "Who's your daddy?" in reference to how New York Yankees fans serenaded Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez during the American League Championship Series.

Milloy and quarterback Drew Bledsoe spent most of their careers in New England.

"Those people (in Boston) aren't going to know what to do if they actually win the world championship," Bledsoe said. "It's like they have death, taxes and the Red Sox never winning the World Series. The three hard facts they grow up with."

e-mail: awilson@buffnews.com

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