Coaching calls loom

1-30-02, 6:30 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

NEW ORLEANS _ The Bengals could be going through some additions and subtractions on their coaching staff as former head coach Bruce Coslet was introduced in Dallas Wednesday as the Cowboys new offensive coordinator.

The Bengals have given permission to the Cowboys to interview tight ends coach Frank Verducci for the offensive line job. Meanwhile in Cincinnati Wednesday, Bengals head coach Dick LeBeau interviewed his Super Bowl free safety in Pittsburgh, Darren Perry, for the job of safeties coach.

And, Bengals President Mike Brown refused to react to stories surfacing here out of the Super Bowl that link the Bengals and other teams to a trade for Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe.

On Wednesday, New England owner Bob Kraft backtracked from his comments on Tuesday in which he said he would be willing to trade Bledsoe or Pro Bowl quarterback Tom Brady.

Kraft said Wednesday he personally wants to keep both and said it would only take a blockbuster trade to get either one

Asked what he would require in a "blockbuster," Kraft said, "Ask the head coach."

But don't ask the Bengals.

"That would be tampering," Brown said. "We're not allowed to talk

about other teams' players."

But the Bengals did give Coslet permission to talk to Verducci about replacing long-time Cowboys line coach Hudson Houck. Verducci, 44, who joined the Bengals in 1999 after seven seasons as the University of Iowa line coach, aspires to coach the line. In '99, Verducci replaced Bob Wylie when Wylie got the line job with the Bears.

If Verducci leaves, the Bengals could replace him with former Pro Bowl tight end Rodney Holman. Holman, the club's current assistant strength coach, is seventh on the Bengals' all-time receptions list with 318. He was an offensive assistant on Mike Ditka's staff in New Orleans in 1998 and 1999.

Perry, an eighth-round draft pick out of Penn State in 1992, played for LeBeau when LeBeau coordinated the Steelers defense that lost to the Cowboys in Super Bowl XXX after the 1995 season. He retired after the 2000 season.

"He was like a coach on the field, which is why I wanted to talk to him," LeBeau said. "He was a good player and he knew what he was doing out there. We'll talk to some other guys, too."

The Bengals wouldn't name the other candidates, but they are expected to visit next week.

In other Bengals' news Wednesday, trainer Paul Sparling said defensive tackle Oliver Gibson plans in the next few weeks to undergo arthroscopic shoulder surgery, Sparling termed the procedure "minor," and "housekeeping."

The Bengals also expect to hear officially Thursday that running back Corey Dillon is to replace Jerome Bettis for the AFC in next week's Pro Bowl. Joby Branion, one of Dillon's agents, said Wednesday he had yet to hear from the NFL.

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