Mangenius has roots with Ravens' franchise

OWINGS MILLS -- It has been a meteoric rise for Eric Mangini, climbing the NFL ladder from ball boy to public relations intern to quality control assistant to eventually become the New York Jets' head coach. Before he was ever proclaimed "Mangenius," he was simply known as "Ribs" in Cleveland because he liked to eat a lot of barbecue ribs.

Mangini's roots began with the Baltimore Ravens' franchise, snagging footballs as a 23-year-old ball boy with the original Cleveland Browns before catching future New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick's eye for his diligent work in the PR department making copies on a giant Xerox machine dubbed "Big Bertha."

Mangini was eventually hired by the Ravens as an offensive assistant in 1996, and phoned in the team's selection of offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden prior to the Ravens' inaugural season.

"I got to phone in the first pick ever," said Mangini, who met his wife, Julie, the daughter of Baltimore attorney Ron Shapiro, while working for the Ravens. "I remember Mr. (Art) Modell giving me a hard time because it was filmed. I wasn't exactly used to that.

"I loved the city. The crabs are outstanding. I got to meet my wife when I was there. So, it was really a great year for me."

Mangini, 36, who apprenticed under Belichick and Bill Parcells, led the Jets to a playoff berth last season in his first season as a head coach.

With his profile rising, he and his wife made a cameo appearance during the final season of "The Sopranos" this summer.

During the scene, Nuovo Vesuvio chef Artie Bucco informed mob boss Tony Soprano that "Mangenius" was dining in the restaurant. So, Soprano hustled over to greet the coach.

"It's the Jets coach, sweetie, I should go say hello," Soprano told his wife, Carmela.

The episode aired June 3.

"The Sopranos is a show that Julie and I watched from the time it came on," Mangini said in a conference call. "When the opportunity came up, at first I thought someone was kidding around. It was just a great opportunity and then they give me a role I'd be good at: eating dinner."

INJURY UPDATE: Not practicing: offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden (turf toe, doubtful) along with cornerback David Pittman (ankle, questionable), who's in a walking boot, and tight end Daniel Wilcox (sprained ankle, questionable.)

Wilcox said his ankle is getting better and hopes to play this week, but the Ravens tried out several tight ends Friday after practice.

Safety Ed Reed (ankle, questionable) returned to practice, but was limited.

Also limited in practice and questionable: wide receivers Mark Clayton (toe) and Demetrius Williams (chest), quarterback Steve McNair (groin pull), cornerback Samari Rolle (foot) and middle linebacker Ray Lewis (strained triceps).

Questionable for the Jets: cornerback Andre Dyson (foot), running back Thomas Jones (calf), cornerback Justin Miller (thigh), offensive guard Brandon Moore (shoulder), quarterback Chad Pennington (ankle) and defensive back Eric Smith (thigh).

Linebacker David Bowens (hand), tight end Joe Kowaleski (shoulder), defensive lineman Dewayne Robertson (knee) and fullback Stacy Tutt (foot) are probable.

SHARP DEBUT: The Ravens weren't surprised to see outside linebacker Jarret Johnson excel during his first start since replacing Adalius Thomas.

Johnson recorded the defense's lone sack of Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer and was credited with five tackles.

"I told you so," defensive end Trevor Pryce said. "None of us are surprised to see that. Jarrett is a hell of a football player."

Added Johnson: "I'm pretty comfortable out there."

QUICK HITS: Rookie return specialist Yamon Figurs said it was beneficial to practice with left-footed free agent Glenn Pakulak this week to prepare for Jets punter Ben Graham is left-footed. Figurs said he thinks he'll handle both punt and kickoff return duties Sunday. The Ravens have activated running back Cory Ross for insurance. ... Nickel back Corey Ivy missed practice for an undisclosed reason. ... Former Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Fassel will work as a color analyst on CBS Radio during Sunday's game. Fassel was fired by Ravens coach Brian Billick last October. ... Wide receiver Derrick Mason eclipsed the 8,000-yard mark for career receiving yardage with seven catches for 76 yards against the Bengals. ... Billick cautioned Ravens fans about not starting their tailgating too early with a 4:15 p.m. kickoff. "Sleep in a little bit," he said. "This team runs no-huddle all game and our fans ought to take a little offense to that. They think they can come in here and not have a procedure penalty or jump offsides or blow an assignment. Our fans need to be full-throttle, and I know they will be."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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