1-22-2001 BY GEOFF HOBSON
TAMPA, Fla. _ The Bengals should have a new offensive coordinator by Wednesday in what now looks to be a two-man race between former Browns head coach Chris Palmer and Steelers receivers coach Bob Bratkowski.
Bengals head coach Dick LeBeau had no comment on candidates. But Palmer, the quarterback guru, and Bratkowksi, the versatile passing game coach, said LeBeau has told them he's looking at Wednesday. P>Palmer, 51, who oversaw 22 wins in two years as Jacksonville offensive coordinator, plans to fly here Tuesday to interview with Buccaneers head coach Tony Dungy. Then he'll talk to LeBeau Wednesday. He gave no indication that ESPN was accurate in hinting the Tampa job is his for the asking.
Palmer, who watched the Bears promote from within after he withdrew from the Chicago job over the weekend, has heard published reports Dungy prefers to promote from within.
"All I know is that I called (Dungy) and told him I was too sick (on Sunday) to fly down and visit today," Palmer said. "He could have said then
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he was going in a different direction. But he told me he still wanted to talk to me and that he still wanted me to come and talk. So I'll be down there (Tuesday)."
After interviewing with LeBeau Friday in Cincinnati, Palmer interviewed in Chicago Saturday with Bears head coach Dick Jauron for the offensive coordinator job. But Palmer was apparently uncomfortable with the year-to-year situation.
Somewhere along the way, Palmer picked up the flu. But he said he'll be well enough to speak to LeBeau Wednesday.
Asked if it looked to be a choice between Tampa Bay and Cincinnati for him, Palmer said, "Cincinnati still has a few choices to make, so let's see what happens."
Bratkowski, 45, a former Seahawks offensive coordinator bred in the Dennis Erickson passing school, said LeBeau told him he's one of his two finalists. But it's not a given he would accept the Bengals job if offered.
"It's something I would have to sit down with my family and discuss," Bratkowkski said. "It's attractive, but not a dead lock."