Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis and former Jacksonville Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin appeared to have emerged as the front-runners for the Cincinnati Bengals' head-coaching job.

Lewis and Coughlin are among three outside candidates to have interviewed for the job, along with Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey. Coughlin's representative said early last night that he was waiting to hear back from the Bengals, perhaps about a second round of interviews.

"They like Tom a lot, and Tom liked them a lot," said agent Gary O'Hagan. "He is prepared to take the next step. The first time, it was a get-to-know-you kind of session. The next step is, 'Let's talk about how we can do this.' But we haven't heard anything from them."

The owner of another NFL team who is familiar with Cincinnati's search said that Lewis "is in it pretty good, but I don't know if they [the Bengals] know yet, either."

The Bengals seem likely to make a decision this week. They would like to have a coaching staff by next week's college Senior Bowl practices in Mobile, Ala., a key scouting opportunity. The Bengals also have interviewed two of their assistant coaches -- defensive coordinator Mark Duffner and running backs coach Jim Anderson.

Lewis was scheduled to return home yesterday from a family vacation. He also is on the list of candidates that the Jaguars want to interview for their head-coaching vacancy, but former Minnesota Vikings coach Dennis Green appears to be the front-runner in Jacksonville.

The Jaguars fired Coughlin last week and owe him $2.4 million in salary for each of the next two seasons. If Cincinnati hires him, the Bengals would have to pay Coughlin what the league regards as a market-value salary, and the Jaguars would owe him the difference between that and $2.4 million.

Redskins Note: The club signed defensive back Wade Davis and running back Eric McCoo.