Receiver-needy Jets sign former Titans WR Rishard Matthews

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Jets have some much-needed help for their banged-up receiving group.

They signed free-agent wide receiver Rishard Matthews, who was released by Tennessee last month after requesting the move because he felt he was being underused. He had three catches for 11 yards in three games.

The Jets were short-handed at receiver because Quincy Enunwa, who has a team-leading 22 catches, is out a few weeks with a sprained ankle. Terrelle Pryor was also released last Saturday with an injury settlement because of a groin tear.

To make room for Matthews on the roster Tuesday, New York placed safety Doug Middleton on injured reserve after he tore a pectoral muscle Sunday in the Jets’ game against Minnesota.

The 29-year-old Matthews signed a one-year contract extension with the Titans in August after leading them with 1,740 yards receiving and 13 touchdowns combined over the past two seasons. He missed organized team activities, minicamp in June, training camp and Tennessee’s first three preseason games with an undisclosed injury before being activated from the physically unable to perform list before the regular season.

But he didn’t like how he was being used in new coordinator Matt LaFleur’s offense and asked to be released or traded. Tennessee granted his request by cutting him when it couldn’t deal him.

He has 228 catches for 3,147 yards and 21 touchdowns in six-plus seasons.

Matthews was a seventh-round pick by Miami out of Nevada, where his quarterback was Colin Kaepernick. He spent his first four NFL seasons with the Dolphins before signing a three-year deal with Tennessee in 2016.

Matthews, who comes from a military family, stayed in the tunnel during the playing of the national anthem during some games last season. He stood on the sideline for the final preseason game this summer and did the same during the three games he was with Tennessee. The Jets have had no players display any protests the past two seasons, with the players, coaches and owner standing together with their arms interlocked.

Middleton started a career-high four games this season, making 27 tackles along with three passes defensed.

It’s another tough break for Middleton, who tore a pectoral last summer during training camp and missed the regular season. He went home to North Carolina to rehabilitate the injury and used the time to earn his master’s degree in public administration from Appalachian State.

He was playing in place of the injured Marcus Maye, who is sidelined with a broken thumb. The Jets are short-handed at the safety spot with Jamal Adams and Terrence Brooks the only healthy players at the position.

Rontez Miles remains on the physically unable to perform list after injuring a knee in the offseason. New York also has Brandon Bryant on the practice squad.

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AP Pro Football Writer Teresa M. Walker in Nashville, Tennessee, contributed.

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