Palmer in spotlight

BY GEOFF HOBSON

MOBILE, Ala. _ Two candidates are out of the mix, but Bengals coach Dick LeBeau could also end up adding to his list in the search for an offensive coordinator.

LeBeau said Friday's visit with former Browns head coach Chris Palmer may not be his last interview, but he's still shooting for a decision by early next week.

Two names on LeBeau's list, former Redskins quarterbacks coach Rich Olson and former Lions receivers coach Jerry Sullivan, got jobs this week in Arizona. Olson became the Cardinals offensive coordinator and Sullivan is his receivers coach.

On Friday, Palmer is to meet with LeBeau at the stadium named after another former Browns head coach and then the two will most likely lunch with Bengals President Mike Brown.

For a team looking to revive the career of a franchise quarterback, Palmer looks to be the answer after stints with Drew Bledsoe, Mark Brunell and Tim Couch. Bledsoe reportedly still talks to Palmer frequently even four years after they went to the Super Bowl with New England.

"He's obviously demonstrated what he can do for a quarterback," said Jacksonville head coach Tom Coughlin, who hired Palmer after the Patriots' Super Bowl season in 96. Couch was much better prepared his second year and that's a direct result of Chris."

If Palmer is handing references to LeBeau, here's one from Coughlin. Coughlin says he's a loyal aide who can be trusted.

"He's had an excellent background. He's worked with Bill Parcells, he's been in our program," Coughlin said. "His approach is very sound. Very logical. The protection of the quarterback is the No. 1 issue. He does an outstanding job organizationally, he's a good leader. He's got a nice sense of humor that goes along with the job.

"He'll work within the organization and do whatever possible to enhance what the head coach wants him to do," Coughlin said. "He's got outstanding command of the offense and will understand the philosophy of the team and the philosophy of the franchise."

Palmer has been in the AFC Central for four seasons, but NFC Central Tampa Bay and Chicago are also interested in his services and plan to interview him next week.

SHARE THE WEALTH: It's a move Bengals President Mike Brown would like to see his fellow NFL owners do more often.

Earlier this week, the owners voted to equally share the 40 percent visitors' gate among all 32 teams when the NFL expands in 2002.

The move was done in order to lighten some of the economic considerations for teams who have to move divisions in the 32-team realignment.

"We need more of it," said Brown of revenue sharing. "I would like to have seen them stretch some of it even more."

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