Jets re-sign WR Coles in time for clash with Patriots

Laveranues Coles is a member of the New York Jets -- again.

The Jets signed the veteran wide receiver to his fourth stint with the team Sunday, one day before a showdown with the New England Patriots for first place in the AFC East.

The Jets had an open roster spot after safety Jim Leonhard was placed on injured reserve Saturday with a broken right leg that required season-ending surgery.

Signing Coles could provide a motivational spark for the team before its biggest game this season. It could also give the receiver, assigned his familiar No. 87, a chance to retire as a member of the Jets.

Coles, who began his career with New York in 2000, was with the team in training camp this summer, but he was cut before the regular season. He had four catches for 19 yards in three preseason games.

Coles hasn't played since, but coach Rex Ryan said when the Jets cut the receiver -- in a scene shown on HBO's "Hard Knocks" -- that they wanted to re-sign him after the first game.

Instead, the Jets re-signed David Clowney -- now with the Carolina Panthers -- and cut running back Danny Woodhead, who signed with New England and now is the Patriots' second-leading rusher.

One of the franchise's most popular players, Coles has 674 catches for 8,609 yards and 49 touchdowns in his NFL career. Coles, who turns 33 on Dec. 29, ranks fourth in Jets history -- behind Don Maynard (627), Wayne Chrebet (580) and Al Toon (517) -- with 459 catches for the team.

Coles insisted throughout training camp that this would be the last stop of his playing career, and this might indeed be it for him -- however long this latest stint lasts.

Coles, drafted in the third round out of Florida State in 2000, signed with the Washington Redskins after three seasons with New York, but he was traded back to the Jets for Santana Moss two years later. Coles was allowed to become an unrestricted free agent last offseason and signed with the Cincinnati Bengals. He struggled in his one season with the Bengals, catching 43 passes for 514 yards and five touchdowns, then was released in March.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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