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Jones is released by team

Ties are cut after recent incident

FOXBOROUGH -- The Patriots yesterday released right tackle Kenyatta Jones from the reserve/ physically-unable-to-perform list.

Last Wednesday, Jones, 24, was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault to maim, and mayhem after allegedly dousing his house guest and administrative assistant, Mark Paul, with scalding water. Paul suffered second- and third-degree burns to his back, shoulder, and forehead. Jones is due back in Wrentham District Court for a pretrial conference Dec. 9.

Jones feared his tenure as a Patriot had ended Wednesday night, but later in the week, after speaking with team brass, expressed optimism that he'd be given another chance. The Patriots, though, historically have shown little tolerance for distractions and are especially conscious of their community image. Thus, rather than be associated with a criminal or civil suit, the organization cut ties with the player projected before the season to start at right tackle.

"I can't control their decisions," said Jones, reached last night. "I don't have any bitter feeling toward them. I've just gotta move on." "The guy had so much potential," said guard Damien Woody, Jones's teammate the past two-plus years. "He was this close to coming back from double knee surgery, and for something like that to basically put an end to his Patriots career is really unfortunate."

Jones had not played this season after undergoing surgery to repair fractured kneecaps. Coach Bill Belichick said a week ago -- and before Jones's Tuesday night arrest -- that Jones would begin practicing last Wednesday. Jones never practiced and, in fact, the team ordered him to stay away from Gillette Stadium. New England had until the 12th week of the season to either activate Jones, place him on injured reserve, or release him.

"Basically it came down to the fact that he was on PUP," Belichick said after yesterday's game. "We didn't think that we could activate him this year, and therefore he wouldn't be playing at all. I know he wanted to play this year, and now he will have that opportunity to do that. We just couldn't provide that."

Jones, who has yet to publicly offer his version of the events, was to earn $375,000 this season and $418,000 next year as part of the four-year contract he signed in 2001, when he was the team's fourth-round pick out of South Florida. New England will absorb a minimal cap hit next year of about $90,000, or the remainder of his prorated signing bonus, but is off the hook for the remainder of his '03 salary.

Jones did not receive an injury settlement, though he may ask for one should he fail to catch on with another team (he's available on the waiver wire until 4 p.m. today).

"We just looked at the situation and did what we thought was best," Belichick said. "I think it was best for us and best for him."

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