Zach Wilson sounded like the proverbial kid in the candy store. In fact, he sounded the proverbial kid who'd consumed a good chunk of the candy store and was working on a sugar high.
"I'm super-excited," the Jets quarterback said after Wednesday's practice. "I'm just psyched to be back on the field, going through the whole process. This is the happiest I've been in a month."
Perhaps more than six or seven weeks, since he turned his right knee on a scramble in the preseason opener, then needed a meniscus procedure and lots of rehab. But that process appears over as Wilson returned to full practice for the first time in a while and ran the Jets' first offense again.
As head coach Robert Saleh said earlier Wednesday, "If all goes well this week, absolutely, yeah," Wilson will take the pigskin from Joe Flacco's hands, get the start and lead the Jets offense against the Steelers in Pittsburgh on Sunday.
"I'm 100 percent, I'm ready to go," Wilson said. "The biggest thing is you haven't played ball in a little bit, you've been trying to replicate as much as possible so I'm just going to have fun with this process and getting back in and just giving it my best."
Wilson's natural high translated to his practice, his first in full team drills after working position drills the previous couple of weeks. His receivers praised his accuracy and his velocity.
"He looks really good," rookie WR Garrett Wilson said. "He was putting ball in tight spots."
"I turned the Jugs up a little bit," Corey Davis said, referencing the speed control on the team's football passing machinery. "I'm excited to have him back."
Zach will be pumped the rest of this week and on into his first regular-season game since early January at Buffalo. But he knows one of the many and varied thoughts and coaching points he's got to keep in mind is to know when to turn down the volume.
"Once you get out there, it's like, being a quarterback your entire life, you have to be calm in situations. Sometimes I'm going to have to bring myself back down," he said. "But it's playing ball."
Fans may wonder how Wilson will monitor his emotions when it comes to taking care of the ball and accelerating out of the pocket away from the Steelers' sometimes confusing pass rushes.
The accuracy question is key for the Jets because perhaps the most impressive quality he displayed after returning from last year's knee injury was his ball protection. He ended the season with 156 consecutive passes and five straight games without throwing an interception.
He's still 56 attempts shy of breaking Ken O'Brien's franchise mark of 211 consecutive passes without a pick in 1987-88, but were Wilson to go unintercepted by the Steelers, his six-game INT-less streak would set a franchise record.
Yet records are the kinds of things that aren't on the front burner for Wilson at this time. And neither is the advice of many outside the team to constantly remind himself that he needs to rein in his feet and his head from playing the game differently, more conservatively, more safely than he's used to doing. It's not going to happen.
"No, that's thinking too much. In my mind, I'm going to give this everything I have and have fun with it and let the result take care of itself," he said. "I'm full-go. I'm going to be playing ball how I can. If somebody comes up, make him miss, get out on the edge, extend plays when I need to, hang in the pocket.
"I plan on being exactly how I should be."
See the top photos from Wednesday's practice leading up to the Steelers game.