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Bengals make payment

The Bengals paid Hamilton County $1,840,995.75 Wednesday to be applied against the first year's rent and first year's ticket surtax obligations at Paul Brown Stadium.

The Bengals also recently paid Hamilton County $562,561 for construction changes that were made at the team's request. The club said it has now paid for all cost overruns that were its responsibility.

In a statement released Wednesday morning, the Bengals said the payments exceed the first-year stadium payments of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Baltimore Ravens, St. Louis Rams and Cleveland Browns. In Nashville, the $28 million the Tennessee Titans received at the outset of their stadium deal offset its $3 million payment. The Ravens received $50 million at the outset of their agreement, and the Rams received $30 million. Here, the Bengals received no up-front payment.

While construction is not yet finished, the Bengals said they recognized the extraordinary efforts that have gone into the stadium and sought to keep progress moving and making funds available to finish the work.

"We hope that by working together, the club and Hamilton County can recommit ourselves to being good partners now and into the future and see the job through to completion," said
Troy Blackburn, the Bengals director of business development.

With the stadium's first season complete, the Bengals said the building, "cannot be seen as anything other than a success."

The club pointed to several highlights, such as hosting more than 100,000 people for its open house, hosting more than 500,000 local residents for NFL games that included the largest sporting event ever held in Cincinnati, hosting the largest high school football game in local history, and hosting dozens of youth football teams and their families.

The Bengals also said they look forward to the completion of Great American Ballpark, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Fort Washington Way and other infrastructure work and see a brighter future for Cincinnati.

"Hamilton County's vision of transforming this community into a nationally recognized city is coming to life, and the Bengals thank County leaders for moving our community forward," Blackburn said.

LEBEAU SEARCH WEDNESDAY UPDATE: While Bengals coach Dick LeBeau continued his search for an offensive coordinator Wednesday, published reports have San Francisco quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp signing an extension with the Niners and not pursuing the Cardinals' coordinator job.

Indications are the Bengals aren't interested in Les Steckel, fired this week as Tampa Bay's coordinator.

TUESDAY STUFF: LeBeau spoke briefly Monday night over the phone with Steelers receivers coach Bob Bratkowski and plans to interview him next week face-to-face for the job of offensive coordinator.

Also kicked around as a possible candidate Tuesday was former Redskins quarterbacks coach Rich Olson.

"Sure, I'm interested if they are but I haven't heard anything yet," said Olson Tuesday afternoon from Virginia, just hours after being let go by new Redskins boss Marty Schottenheimer.

In other Bengals news Tuesday, the agent for left tackle John Jackson said he hoped to meet with the club Friday and wrap up a deal that has a few major loose ends.

Richard Katz said last week he's "relatively close," to a deal in his discussions with scout Duke Tobin. With Tobin returning from scouting the Gridiron Classic in Orlando, Fla., on Friday, Katz hopes to fill in the gaps regarding money and length of the deal.

The last time the Cincinnati-based Katz dropped in to do a contract, he left about an hour later with a five-year, $11 million deal for defensive end Vaughn Booker last February.

LeBeau is looking for his new offensive coordinator through the eyes of a 14-year cornerback and a 28-year defensive coach in the NFL.

Which means he's looking for a guy who can keep defensive coordinators up at night with multiple looks.

agrees. And as a guy who knows something about inexperienced
offensive skill players, Bratkowski thinks offense can be simple and complex at the same time.

"The key with young players is repetition," said Bratkowski Tuesday from his Pittsburgh office.

"You can present a lot of different looks


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to the defense by running the same plays, but out of different formations."

Bratkowski and the rest of the Steeler staff is coaching at next week's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., where he hopes to meet with LeBeau. Bratkowski's old boss, recently fired Steelers offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, is also believed to be meeting with LeBeau in Mobile.

As an offensive coordinator for Dennis Erickson at two colleges and the NFL, Bratkowski's pedigree is obvious. But he also points out he's got some diversity in working with Tom Flores in Seattle and Gilbride and Bill Cowher in Pittsburgh.

Still, the principles of Washington State, Miami, Seattle are his foundation: He likes to throw the ball quickly and he likes to throw it in rhythm.

"But that doesn't mean you can't throw it down field," Bratkowski said. "You can do it with five-step drops and take your shots."

Because he's been looking at the Bengals' defense for the past two years, Bratkowski isn't all that familiar with the Bengals personnel.

But he clearly wants to be an NFL offensive coordinator again after serving Erickson in that role for four years in Seattle.

"I haven't had any other contact other than with Dick," Bratkowski said. "We'll see what happens."

Olson, who worked with Bratkowski in Seattle, has also worked with a couple of Bengals' offensive coaches. His paths crossed with running backs coach Jim Anderson at Southern Methodist in the late '70s, and he was offensive coordinator at Fresno State when receivers coach Steve Mooshagian coached the wideouts.

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