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Ross, Coslet using exhibitions to experiment

August 8, 1997

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) _ Bobby Ross wants to see Glyn Milburn catching passes. Bruce Coslet wants to try rookie Corey Dillon in the same backfield with Ki-Jana Carter.

Sounds like exhibition football.

Most NFL coaches like to experiment during the preseason, and that’s what Ross and Coslet will be doing tonight when the Detroit Lions host the Cincinnati Bengals in the Silverdome.

If the Bengals’ plan works, it would create what Coslet calls a ``Jet″ package similar to the 1-2 punch of James Brooks and Ickey Woods in 1988. Brooks sped for 931 yards while Woods slashed to 1,066 that season.

The Bengals had the same idea last year, but it never took off with Carter and Garrison Hearst.

Cincinnati tried the package for four snaps in the Bengals’ 20-16 exhibition loss at Indianapolis last week. That means it is almost certain to get another look against the Lions. But with Carter nursing a bruised shoulder, Dillon may carry the bulk of the workload.

``One of our goals is to get him on the field more,″ Coslet said. ``He has to play.″

No matter the package, Carter is the Bengals’ clear-cut No. 1 running back. He is the first to hold that status since Harold Green in 1992.

``He’s going to play as much as he can stand off his performance thus far,″ said Coslet, who said he welcomes a feature back. ``To me, Ki-Jana is showing he very well could be that back.″

Ross, meanwhile, has been looking for a receiver to replace Brett Perriman in the slot formation. His first choice is Milburn, the Lions’ return specialist.

``I’ve always been a running back, ever since I was 7 years old,″ Milburn said. ``This is my first time playing wide receiver, and it’s different. I’ve got a lot to learn, but I think it’s coming along.″

Milburn had four receptions for 29 yards in last week’s 20-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Ross thought that was good, but not good enough.

``He’s still got a ways to go,″ Ross said. ``Something like that doesn’t just happen over a matter of months. But he’s definitely improving. I just love that guy. He’s such a hard worker, and he’ll do anything you ask him to.″

This game also will be a chance for each team to give more work to the backup quarterbacks.

For the Bengals, that’s Boomer Esiason, who was traded to the New York Jets in 1993 after nine years with Cincinnati.

Esiason, who rejoined the Bengals this season after spending last year with Arizona, relieved starter Jeff Blake late in the first quarter last week against the Colts. Esiason was 6-for-9 passes for 40 yards, including a 12-yard TD strike to James Hundon.

``It felt good to get back in there,″ Esiason said. ``I’m an insurance policy. Jeff is our starter.″

Detroit starter Scott Mitchell, looking fit and trim at a svelte 242 pounds, appeared in complete control for the three series he played last week against the Falcons. Mitchell completed 9-of-13 passes for 87 yards.

Mitchell’s backup, Frank Reich, completed 11-of-13 for 107 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown bomb to rookie Tommie Boyd.

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