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ANTICIPATION RUNNING HIGH FOR RETURN OF DAN, DEION

SHARE ANTICIPATION RUNNING HIGH FOR RETURN OF DAN, DEION

It's difficult to say what's more anticipated - Dan's return to the Dolphins or Deion's debut with Dallas.

The Miami Dolphins, losers of three straight, welcome back quarterback Dan Marino today after he missed the last two games with hip and knee injuries.Deion Sanders, last year's NFL Defensive Player of the Year, makes his comeback to football as a member of the Dallas Cowboys against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome, a stadium he calls "my house."

After sustaining embarrassing defeats to New Orleans and the New York Jets, the Dolphins need an effective Marino for his production on the field and calming effect off it.

The team's emotional stability reached its lowest point last week with defensive back Gene Atkins threatening to sit out the Jets game if he didn't like other personnel decisions.

"Losing these past weeks has taken its toll on the attitude of this team," Marino said. "Any time you bring anybody back, it's a shot in the arm. Hopefully I can provide that.

"I think I'm going to be healthy enough to move and be out of the way. I don't feel like I did when the season started. But I think I feel well enough to play and to be very effective."

Buffalo, which has won eight of nine games at Joe Robbie Stadium, will play in Miami without running back Thurman Thomas and wide receiver Andre Reed. The Bills lead the AFC East at 5-2, one game ahead of the Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts.

Sanders, who was with Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers last season, played for the Falcons from 1989-93. When the 49ers beat the Falcons 42-3 last season in Atlanta, he returned an interception 93 yards for a touchdown, high-stepping and taunting the Falcons bench along the way.

After the game, he said, "This is my house. I built this house."

Sanders' debut with the Cowboys was delayed because of ankle surgery after his his baseball season with the San Francisco Giants ended. Though the league has ruled his contract invalid, he has been cleared by the NFL to play.

He will start at right cornerback, but Dallas coach Barry Switzer doesn't think Sanders will get to play on offense or special teams.

"He's been trying to shake off the rust, the cobwebs," Switzer said. "At some point, he will return kicks. He's not ready for the total package yet. He hasn't had enough time to get ready for all three phases."

The Cowboys lead the NFC East with a 6-1 record, while the Falcons are 5-2 and tied with the 49ers and St. Louis Rams for the NFC West lead.

In Pittsburgh, the Jacksonville Jaguars (3-5) can make history. The Jaguars, who are tied with four teams for most victories by an expansion team, are aiming for their second two-game winning streak and their second victory over the Steelers.

The Steelers (3-4) are hoping to keep pace atop the AFC Central, stop a two-game losing streak and avoid their second loss to the Jaguars.

"Even I'm a little bit surprised how we've been hanging with some pretty good teams," Jaguars center Dave Widell said. "We're winning games vs. the good teams in our division."