BY GEOFF HOBSON
MOBILE, Ala. _ Bengals head coach Dick LeBeau had dinner with offensive coordinator candidate Bob Bratkowski here Monday night, but there are still other names on the menu.
LeBeau plans to speak with former Steelers offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride here Tuesday as NFL coaches and scouts convene to eye the practices for this weekend's Senior Bowl.
Then on Wednesday he'll talk with former Lions receivers coach Jerry Sullivan, a highly-regarded passing game assistant who has never been an NFL coordinator.
When LeBeau returns to Cincinnati later in the week, he'll host former Browns head coach Chris Palmer for what figures to be the final interview in what is looking to be a search that ends next week with a decision.
The club appears to be approaching the right people. Former Redskins head coach Norv Turner went to San Diego as the coordinator. Steelers tight ends coach Mike Mularkey got promoted to coordinator and Eagles quarterbacks coach Brad Childress got his contract extended in Philadelphia.
There appeared to be some fleeting interest in Chiefs offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye, but Monday he was expected to edge out former Bengals head coach Bruce Coslet in Washington for the same job.
And Tuesday is the day the club could find out if Colts quarterbacks coach Bruce Arians is still in the mix. It's believed Arizona will name its coordinator Tuesday and Arians is one of the Cardinals' candidates.
But LeBeau, who was impressed with Peyton Manning's position coach, said he plans to talk to everyone on his list.
"I think we should," LeBeau said. "I'm trying to do a good job with it. And I think you have to be exhaustive."
LeBeau isn't tipping his hand on what he's looking for
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because he's working from a list that runs the gamut from wide open to close-to-the-vest passing games.
Gilbride and Bratkowski, the current Steelers receivers coach, have roots in the open throttle, three- and four- receiver sets. Sullivan is out of the West Coast school closest to the Bengals' present scheme. And Palmer has been a little bit of everything, from run-and-gun in college, to a controlled vertical game as Jacksonville's coordinator, to an arch-conservative bent during his two-year head coaching stint in Cleveland.
But LeBeau said the Bengals should be able to marry their strength running back Corey Dillon's power game with the new coordinator's passing scheme.
"I think you can do that," LeBeau said. "I would think any passing game is helped by the run."
LeBeau spoke for about two to three hours with Bratkowski and they were joined briefly at the dinner table by Bengals President Mike Brown.
LeBeau wants Brown to meet all the candidates, but Brown said, "This is Dick's choice all the way. I was impressed by Bratkowski. He's a high-grade guy who is an experienced NFL coach with the pass. That's what we're looking for and I guess he's going to talk to some more guys."
LeBeau knows of Sullivan's work from the scouting trail when Sullivan worked as a college coach. Sullivan worked under former Bengals head coach Sam Wyche at Indiana before moving on to LSU and then to the Bobby Ross Chargers and Lions in the NFL.
"Jerry's had a Pro Bowl receiver everywhere he's been," LeBeau said. "He's a guy that should be talked to because he's an excellent coach."