Sunday can't come soon enough

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The excitement is building this week in the Burress household. Every morning, Plaxico Burress' 4-year-old son, Elijah, asks, "Is it Sunday yet?"

For the veteran wide receiver, it has been a long time between Sundays -- 34 months, to be exact.

Burress makes his return to the NFL on Sunday night as a member of the New York Jets, and he'll face an old rival, the Dallas Cowboys, at MetLife Stadium. It will be his first regular-season game since he accidentally shot himself in the leg on Nov. 28, 2008, only nine months after he scored the game-winning touchdown for the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.

Burress served 20 months in prison for illegal possession of a weapon, always confident that he'd get another shot. But now that it's here, unfolding in the same city where everything went wrong, he's starting to feel the impact.

"I feel it as each day goes by, that it's slowly coming upon me, and I'm excited, along with everybody else," Burress said Thursday. "I think -- I know -- that my emotions will be high come Sunday."

Burress said he might shed a couple of tears before the kickoff. He said he didn't think about football too much in prison, but after two months of training on his own and another six weeks with the Jets, he's immersed in football once again.

"I'll be just as fired up as I could be," he said.

Burress, 34, who signed a one-year, $3 million contract, has been saying since Day 1 that he expects to be the old Plaxico. But on Thursday, he acknowledged for the first time that it may take some time. He expects to be "a little winded" in the fourth quarter, claiming it's all part of getting back into football shape.

"I just want to play fast and have an impact," he said, also admitting his sprained left ankle -- hurt early in camp -- is about "92, 93 percent."

Burress is expected to start alongside Santonio Holmes, with former Baltimore Raven Derrick Mason as the No. 3 receiver. The Jets believe Burress' presence will have a huge impact on their passing game, especially in the red zone.

"He's going to take the pressure off Santonio," guard Brandon Moore said. "Not many teams have two No. 1 receivers."

Burress admitted that he's still learning the Jets' offense. Because of his lack of familiarity in their system, he will be used where he feels most comfortable -- the 'X' or split-end position. Holmes and Mason will rotate in the Z (flanker) and slot positions.

"I talked to him and I could tell there's an excitement there," coach Rex Ryan said. "I think he once scored three touchdowns against the Cowboys. I'd sign up for that."

That was the 2007 opener at Dallas, where he caught eight passes for 144 yards and three touchdowns. He was asked if he has any memories of facing the Cowboys at the old Giants Stadium.

"I just remember that we used to beat up on them pretty good," he said, smiling.

Burress was in an upbeat mood, but he got the biggest kick out of describing the mood of his family as opening day approaches. He said his son always wears a Jets jersey and cap.

"When I come home he has his mouthpiece in, running across the hallway," Burress said. "He's fired up, he's ready to go. Every day he wakes up, he wants to know, 'Is it Sunday yet?' I say, 'No, today's just Thursday.'

"He's going to be in the building, trust me. He's going to be there. I'm excited for him because he's 4 now, he understands everything. Daddy [is] going back to playing football."

Elijah apparently knows the situation well enough to ask the question on every sports fans' mind.

"He wants to know who throws a better ball, [Mark] Sanchez or Eli [Manning]?" Burress said. "So I have to go through that every day with him."

In case you're wondering, Burress didn't answer. At least not to reporters.