Deion (Prime Time) Sanders was scheduled to start his first full day of work with the Falcons at 8 a.m. last Thursday. But when Atlanta assistant head coach Fred Bruney, who was already inside the Falcons' complex in Suwanee, Ga., walked out of his office at about 7:40, he saw Sanders standing alone outside the locked front door of the building. Pleasantly surprised, Bruney laughed and said, "Prime Time is now on Falcon Time."
Bruney tutored Sanders over the next three days, and Sanders took the field in Sunday's 31-21 loss to the Rams for four plays as the deep cover guy in Atlanta's nickel defense. He also returned punts. He dropped the first one, but the down was replayed because of a penalty. He fumbled the second punt, too, but he recovered the ball, eluded five Rams tacklers and scored on a 68-yard return. "When I touch the ball, people expect a miracle," said Sanders.
The other tardy Sanders, running back Barry in Detroit, also had an auspicious debut. Like Deion, Barry signed Thursday and practiced lightly on Friday and Saturday. He entered the Lions' lineup in the third quarter of a 16-13 loss to the Cardinals. On successive downs Barry rushed for 18, three, five and then three yards for a touchdown.
Which brings us to the snide question: Is training camp important? "I don't want to minimize what those two guys did," says Giants general manager George Young. "But it's what you do over a period of time that counts."
The scene is suddenly grim in Pittsburgh, where the Steelers suffered the worst defeat in their 57-year history. During the 51-0 loss to Cleveland, rookie running back Tim Worley fumbled three times in 21 minutes, and the offense made only five first downs, an alltime low for the team. One memorable lowlight was quarterback Bubby Brister completing a pass to himself—for a 10-yard loss. "I've never had one quite this bad," said coach Chuck Noll. And things could get worse. In the next six weeks, Pittsburgh plays only one team, Detroit, that didn't win at least 10 games in 1988.
Green Bay wore white jerseys at home for the first time since at least 1952—no one remembers further back than that—in part, many believe, to try to confuse Tampa Bay quarterback Vinny Testaverde, who is color-blind. This forced Tampa Bay to wear orange, which some color-blind people see as gray or near white—hence the potential for confusion. Normally, the Bucs wear white on the road, and this year they plan to wear white at home as well, forcing visitors to wear dark jerseys, which are often easier for Testaverde to discern. Despite Sunday's tricky colors, however, Testaverde had his most efficient game ever. He completed 22 of 27 passes for 205 yards and a touchdown in the Bucs 23-21 victory.
?Weird Stat of the Week: Phoenix kicker Al Del Greco has converted three game-winning field goals in the final minute in odd-numbered years at the Pontiac Silverdome. He did it in 1985, '87 and in the Cardinals' three-point win over Detroit on Sunday. That one was a 33-yarder with 13 seconds to go. "I love kicking indoors," Del Greco says.
?The Vikings' leading rusher in their 38-7 defeat of the Oilers on Sunday, D.J. Dozier, gained 41 yards. Minnesota has now gone 26 games without having a runner gain 80 yards.