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Jets WR Burress intent on making most of his second chance

Nearly halfway through his first season since 2008, New York Jets wide receiver Plaxico Burress would tell you everything has unfolded about the way he expected.

"Hills and valleys," Burress said on "NFL GameDay Morning." "Kind of got off to a good start (in the season opener) against Dallas and, you know, hit a few speed bumps in a row. But it's been a work in progress for me. It's my first time back playing football in two years, and I'm one of the first people to tell you that my legs aren't where I would want them to be."

That'll happen after spending 20 months in prison and nearly three years away from football.

Burress, you'll recall, accepted a plea deal on a firearms charge in August 2009 for accidentally shooting himself in the thigh at a Manhattan nightclub with a gun that had not been licensed in New York. He was released from prison last June and shortly thereafter received a second chance to play in the NFL when the Jets signed him to a one-year, $3 million contract.

Burress, 34, said he has moved on from his past transgressions, and that he's intent on improving during the second half of the season.

"I've been through everything," Burress said. "You have to be patient. Work hard and everything will come together. I'm a firm believer in that. It's hard work, being patient and just believing in yourself and, you know, remaining faithful."

As expected, Burress hasn't immediately gotten back to being the playmaker he was before prison. In seven games, he has just 18 catches for 243 yards. Prior to New York's last game in Week 7 against the San Diego Chargers, he'd caught just two touchdowns.

Then came the Chargers game, and Burress burst to life. He connected with quarterback Mark Sanchez for three touchdowns, and suddenly it felt like old times.

Burress had thought about days like this back in prison.

"You dream of those kind of days," Burress said. "You wake up on a Sunday morning, and you say to yourself, 'Where else would you rather be than playing professional football?'

" ... Those are the kind of days that you dream about. I say to myself, as a wide receiver, if I can just go out and compete, just catch every ball thrown my way and score a touchdown, that's a great day. But to go out and to be able to have three, I mean ... a lot of people are involved in that kind of success."

After scoring all three of those touchdowns, Burress did something special in celebration. He went over to his son, Elijah, and gave him the game ball each time.

Consider it a small gesture of thanks from Dad for the inspiration.

"If anybody deserves that kind of joy and happiness, it's him," Burress said. "You know, everything that he's been through, and he was my motivation to help me get through the different emotions and things that I went through.

"And also my wife. I mean, you know, she's sharing that joy of that day also. And to see them jumping up and down, and we're giving each other high fives, I mean that's the genuine joy that we've missed over the past two and a half years now."

Yes, it's been a long time coming for Burress. The plan now is to keep working toward resembling the Burress of old.

"It's all about me proving something to myself," Burress said. "It has nothing to do with nobody else. It's about proving it to myself."

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