Notes: Tahi call close

After a curtain of silence the Bengals finally hear if they get Vikings fullback Naufahu Tahi  during the next day. His agent hasn't heard anything from the Vikes and even though they are expected to match the offer, Minnesota head coach Brad Childress sounded more like CNBC than ESPN this week when he dealt with the issue at the league meetings.

The Bengals signed Tahi to a one-year, $1.4 million offer sheet Friday, giving the Vikings seven days to decide if they want to match the deal for the restricted free agent. If there is no word from Minnesota by the end of business Friday, the Bengals have a starting fullback. If they match, the Bengals are still looking at other RFAs, as well as the draft.

Minnesota doesn't have a backup fullback to speak of, which is a major reason some Vikings observers figure they'll match. But Childress offered no hints.

"I'm going to use my pat line again," Childress said. "You have a week and in these economic times rather than take on a burden for an extra week of principle and interest, there's really no merit in jumping out of the box until 11:59:59 if that in fact is what you're going to do."

TOMLIN TAKE: Steelers coach Mike Tomlin isn't so sure what to expect from the Bengals off of what happened last season. But he has a feeling it's going to be more and, as a defensive guy, he's got his eye on Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.

 "Their defense is on the rise under the direction of Coach Zimmer. They're going to be a competitive team," Tomlin said.

"Any time you're playing with a backup quarterback it's tough to evaluate, which is what they did for the majority of the season. You're capable of seeing what you're about when you have a guy like Carson Palmer leading your offense. The best defense is offense at times."

QB SHUFFLE:Meanwhile, new Browns head coach Eric Mangini has declared his quarterback job open in a competition between Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn. Anderson is 2-1 against the Bengals, 1-1 against Palmer, and Cincinnati has never seen Quinn.

Last year Bengals backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had more passing yards than two of his foes, Anderson and Washington's Jason Campbell. 

"I think the important thing is to make the right decision and it's a lot more distracting to make the wrong decision," Mangini said. "To me to make that decision you have to be able to know the guy. You have to be able to see how he is situationally. What he's going to be like running the two-minute drive or a no-huddle drive or day in and day out in practice, the meetings. All those things are important."

Still, the Browns continue to be in the Jay Cutler Trade Rumor Mill and Mangini didn't do anything to blunt the buzz.

"Our job is to look at any opportunities to improve the team. That's something we'll always do," he said. "And we're going to make the best decision for the team at that time. It's not unique to this situation. It's going to be ongoing. I do like both guys. I think they both bring valuable things to the table. Often times you're looking for one. So to have two I think is a positive situation."

WEST FLING:With a move afoot to limit Eastern teams to one West Coast game a year after this year, the Bengals may be one of the last eastern teams to play in San Diego and Oakland in the same season when they go on the road in '09. The last time they did it, they split in 2003 with a win in San Diego and a loss in Oakland for their first Californian win since 1990.

Does travel matter?

New Chiefs head coach Todd Haley thought so until his Cardinals went to Carolina in the playoffs and routed the Panthers.

"That stuff kind of grew legs of its own. If we hadn't had the game against Carolina that we had, I would probably be with you right now," Haley said. "The fact is we played our best game and did less, less of trying to figure out how to make it better and we played great."

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