David Nelson couldn't hold it in, even in the minutes following our rousing win over the Saints two weeks ago.
Next up, David, is Buffalo. Any thoughts?
"Against my old team ... I'm excited, I'm excited," the wideout said, shifting postgame gears seamlessly. "A lot of people try to give you the politically correct term of it's just another game. That's not for me. It's going to be an extremely emotional game.
"Not only is it against my old team, it's in their house, in the place where I was a big part of what they were doing there for three years. That's where my career started, where I kind of made a name for myself in the league. There's a lot of special memories, a lot of players that are still there that I hold deep connections with. And so I'm extremely, extremely excited to go back up there and play those guys."
Fast-forward to Monday back at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center after our first practice following the bye week, and Nelson gave more insight into why this game means so much. You see, after his first two seasons as a productive Buffalo wideout, he tore his ACL early last season. And in March he heard through a familiar medium that the Bills had made him a cap casualty.
"I found out through Twitter — like a lot of other things in life," Nelson said. "At the end of the day it's still a little difficult for me to swallow."
Despite expressing respect and gratitude to the fans, his former teammates and the Bills organization, he said, "For them it was a business decision, but for me it was extremely personal. I thought we had developed a great relationship over there to where I could get at least a phonecall, some kind of acknowledgement, but that wasn't the case. That decision was driving me and motivating me every single day, so It's kind of made me the player I am today."
That player is a Jets in-season signing who in the past five games has helped keep our battered and bruised wideouts moving forward. He has had 23 passes targeted for him and 16 catches for 199 yards. He gave as good as he got from Bengals CB Pacman Jones. And he became one of Geno Smith's new "security blankets" as Santonio Holmes and Jeff Cumberland (injuries) and Kellen Winslow (suspension) were stripped away from him.
"An impressive young man," head coach Rex Ryan said of Nelson. "I like him. He competes his tail off. The fact that he's able to pick up an offense in the short amount of time that he did — very impressive. And it speaks volumes to the teachers you have in there. Marty Mornhinweg, Sanjay [Lal], those guys do a great job. But it tells you about him, it tells you about the person.
"I know he gained all the respect in the world from all his teammates."
David Nelson uses words like "honored," "blessed" and "proud" to describe being a Jet these days, and now he wants to show the Bills how big a blessing it really is on Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Of course, Nelson, being one sharp dude, knows this buildup can be a double-edged sword, so he's developed a mental approach to this game — to any game, in fact, in which an athlete is returning to play against a former team that let him go.
"I think some guys try to downplay it, try to keep the emotions out of it, try to keep the feelings out of it," he said regarding Chris Ivory's strong, silent approach to his rematch with the Saints. "But then when it all comes to the surface, sometimes it's just a little overwhelming. So for me, I'm just going to go ahead and embrace it now, get it out of my system Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, so that when Sunday comes around, I'm ready to play ball."
Further, Nelson knows he has help this week as he tries to stay within himself and within the execution of the game plan. Holmes looks to be back and ready to resume his season after missing five games with a hamstring injury. Ivory is still prepared to divvy up the running game with Bilal Powell.
"I'll just continue to talk to guys like Tone and Chris, figure out what they went through that week [against their former teams] and learn from them," he said. "You've just got to take it as it goes and hopefully it won't be made too much of."
Well, no more than Nelson is making of it himself. But he seems to have it together as he prepares for this game that "holds a little more in my heart than most others."
"It's going to be an emotional game," he said. "It's going to be a fun game."