logoby Scott Benson

Surprising news comes from Foxborough this afternoon, where Mike Reiss reports the Patriots have released third-year receiver Chad Jackson, the 36th pick in the 2006 NFL Draft.

The move comes one day after Jackson had apparently made the club as the Pats cut down to the required 53-man limit. Perhaps it had been last gasp attempt to exchange Jackson for a future pick that necessitated the extra day. Either way, the big story is the Pats have given up on a 23-year old player to whom they had already committed significant resources.

Early in camp, Jackson had some well-documented problems getting on the same page with Tom Brady, but by the end of the month, he had been responsible for what were arguably the team’s two best scoring plays of the pre-season. His slip on a fade route Thursday night cost the Pats the ball, leaving an easy end zone interception for R.W. McQuarters; a microcosm of the player’s career here if we ever saw one.

Nobody’s getting rich on blowing the 36th pick in the draft. And if I recall correctly, this was a player that Bill Belichick worked out himself. By the way, what is it with the Patriots and collegiate pass catchers? Since selecting David Givens with the 244th pick in 02, the Patriots have drafted TE’s and WR’s Bethel Johnson (03/pick 45), Spencer Nead (03/234th), Ben Watson (04/32nd), PK Sam (04/164th), Andy Stokes (05/255th), Jackson, David Thomas (06/86th), Garrett Mills (06/106th) and Matthew Slater (08/153rd). Much like Johnson before him, the Pats will be reminded again and again of this high-profile whiff.

This must have been interesting news for C.J. Jones and Ray Ventrone, who are now presently better pro prospects than a guy who once went in the second round. Jones had a moment or two in the pre-season (good and bad), and maybe his long kick return on Thursday night gave him a final push on to the roster. Ventrone was the wide receiver group’s sturdiest runner after the catch this month, and maybe he works his way into the slot somehow if Wes Welker is slow to recover from a rib injury he suffered a couple of weeks ago.

Ventrone catching passes from Tom Brady? As Chad Jackson and the Patriots reminded us earlier today, you never know.

The Pats are now at 53 players, including the suspended Kevin Faulk.  They’ll have a choice of standing pat for a week (after all, they’ll only use 45 players against the Chiefs, the only game Faulk is due to miss) or adding an allowable 54th man while they still have the Faulk exemption, delaying the final roster decision another week.