Bengals to talk to Steeler aide

BY GEOFF HOBSON

The Bengals again turned to Pittsburgh Monday in their search for an offensive coordinator and received permission to interview Steelers receivers coach Bob Bratkowski.

Another name could be coming into the mix when word came late Monday that Redskins quarterbacks coach Rich Olson had been fired as part of the Marty Schottenheimer takeover in Washington D.C.

Like Olson, Bratkowksi, 45, is a product of the Dennis Erickson passing game. After working for Erickson at Miami of Florida, Bratkowski served as his offensive coordinator for four seasons with the Seahawks from 1995-98.

Bratkowski could be looking to make a move after Pittsburgh promoted tight ends coach Mike Mularkey to offensive coordinator last week.

It's believed Bengals head coach Dick LeBeau will interview both Bratkowski and the man recently fired as his boss – former Steelers offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride – at next week's Senior Bowl.

The Steelers finished just two spots ahead of the last-place Bengals in NFL passing this season. But Gilbride and Bratkowksi have had previous success in the league. Along with the Erickson background, Bratkowski has the confidence of former Steelers director of football operations Tom Donahoe. As does Gilbride.

Donahoe, a LeBeau confidant, said both men are well versed in the recent successful pro passing games.

"You just have to take a look at what Kevin has done in the league and Bob is an excellent coach who knows football," said Donahoe, who had a hand in hiring both in Pittsburgh.

"I thought they did a good job in the last half of this past year getting (quarterback) Kordell (Stewart) going and getting something out of their real young receivers."

The only receivers younger than Bratkowski's this season

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probably played in Cincinnati.

In his first two years in Pittsburgh, Bratkowski was given two No. 1 picks in Troy Edwards in 1999 and Plaxico Burress last season. The Steelers also had a third-rounder from '98 in Hines Ward, and a second-rounder in Will Blackwell from '97.

Ironically, a fourth-round receiver from this season, Danny Farmer, was cut in training camp and ended the season starting in Cincinnati.

Edwards tailed off a bit this year, but had a big rookie year in '99 with 61 catches for 714 yards and five touchdowns. Ward also had 61 catches for 638 yards and seven touchdowns.

This season, rookie Peter Warrick led the Bengals with 51 catches and the receivers caught just five touchdown passes.

When Bratkowski was the offensive coordinator in Seattle, Warren Moon set a club record with 3,678 passing yards in '97 and running back Chris Warren set a team record with 16 touchdowns in 1995.

When Bratkowski was the receivers coach in 1994, Brian Blades set the team record with 81 catches.

Olson, 52, worked with Bratkowski in Seattle before joining old friend Norv Turner in Washington prior to the '99 season.

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