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PATRIOTS NOTEBOOK

No movement on Jones

He thinks incident won't affect status

FOXBOROUGH -- While Kenyatta Jones's reputation has been damaged thanks to assault and mayhem charges, his status as a New England Patriot remains status quo -- at least as of yesterday.

There had been talk Wednesday that Jones's place on the team was in jeopardy, but the third-year right tackle remains on the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list. The Patriots have until Week 12 to activate Jones, place him on injured reserve, or release him.

Jones said yesterday that he had spoken to "everyone I need to speak to" and seemed certain that a release would not come a month early over a non-football issue. "Everything's cool on that end," said Jones, who declined comment on allegedly throwing scalding water on his administrative assistant, Mark Paul, who sustained burns on his face, shoulder, and back. "No bad news," Jones said. "All good news from [the Patriots]."

Jones, the team's fourth-round pick in 2001, was to begin practicing Wednesday. The Patriots have only three tackles on their active roster -- starters Matt Light (left) and Tom Ashworth (right) and backup Brandon Gorin -- after placing Adrian Klemm (ankle) on injured reserve last Saturday. If and when Jones practices, New England has three weeks to decide whether to activate him. Bill Belichick likely will wait until Jones's off-field problems are settled before starting the countdown.

"His status on this team has not changed in terms of his PUP status or his practice status or anything else," Belichick said.

Otherwise, the coach remained mum on the troubles of the player who, after last season, was projected as the starter at right tackle before undergoing double knee surgery in the offseason. "Until the situation really gets resolved, I'm going to withhold making any comment on it," Belichick said.

Smith eyes Sunday

Antowain Smith hasn't played since suffering a left shoulder/neck injury against the Titans almost three weeks ago. His absence was especially noticeable Sunday, when the Patriots failed to convert a pair of third-and-1s. He's practiced the past two days, a good indication he won't miss a third game. "It's coming all right," Smith reported. "I thought I'd be out there the last couple of weeks. So it'll be up to the doctors to see if I'm going to play. I'm being positive. I'm always trying to get back out there. Hopefully, they'll give me the OK to get back out there and I'll be able to go. [I've got] fresh legs. Hopefully, I can come back and make a difference this week.". . . Mike Vrabel is practicing -- and, presumably, progressing. "Right now, I really just try to pace myself in practice and see what I can do," said Vrabel, also questionable (arm) after his first game in a month. "Just try to keep [the broken right arm] out of harm's way, and then on Sunday just let it loose. I feel a little better after getting a game under my belt, and I'm trying to build on it." . . . "Questionables" Ty Law (ankle, ribs), Willie McGinest (neck), and Je'Rod Cherry (knee) did not practice. Joe Andruzzi (shoulder), David Patten (knee), and Roman Phifer (ankle) returned to practice after sitting out Wednesday's workout . . . Here's what went down after Sunday's game: Chris Akins's helmet was lying on the field and Miami's Tim Bowens kicked it. Akins took exception, there was some pushing and shoving in the tunnel, and Bowens threw a punch, though he didn't connect. Apparently the incident is a closed issue in the league office. "I can confirm that neither player has received a fine," AFC information manager Steve Alic said yesterday. "And I don't anticipate that they will."

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