For Wille Snead, the toughest part is over.
The public scrutiny.
The feeling he had let his family and his fans down.
Those helpless game days when he had to sit at home and watch from the couch while the Saints played.
Snead, suspended by the NFL for the season's first three games after getting arrested for a DWI in June, is trying to put all of that behind him now.
He seems ready for the challenge, taking it on with the same determination he used to go from an undrafted rookie to one of the key components of the Saints' offense.
Snead is expected to make his season debut Sunday when the Saints host the Detroit Lions at noon at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
On Wednesday, exactly four months after the arrest, Snead was back in his comfortable place, standing in front of his locker surrounded by microphones and tape recorders. It was the first time since his suspension that he addressed the local media, the same group that last season voted Snead the recipient of the Jim Finks Award for being the most cooperative Saints player.
Snead cracked a smile before fielding the first question, saying "it's good to see you all again."
Then he fielded questions about something he probably never imagined he'd never have to answer for: a DWI.
"It's definitely been a learning experience," Snead said. "It's something I have never been through. I'm just trying to take it day by day, keep my family close and keep my faith strong and just try to learn from my mistake."
The mistake came early on a June morning, when Snead's Jeep Wrangler hit another car in Kenner. Snead registered a .125 on a Breathalyzer test, exceeding the Louisiana legal limit of .08.
Snead was jailed on counts of first-offense driving while intoxicated, a misdemeanor, and failure to maintain proper control of a vehicle.
"It's on the back burner," Snead said. "I'm past that point right now. I have dealt with it, and I'm just trying to look forward to the future, learn from my mistakes and keep it moving."
Snead said his teammates helped him get through the tough time.
"They told me to keep my head up," Snead said. "They were here supporting me. They understand the situation. Everybody makes mistakes and it could have happened to anybody. They are just glad I'm OK and they just want me to get past that point."
Mentally, he seems to have.
Now the question is how far behind Snead is physically, if at all.
He said he knows he'll have to get some game reps to get back in the groove of things. His teammates said he'll be just fine.
"He hasn't lost a step," said fellow receiver Brandon Coleman. "Snead is that element that we have been missing. He is a key factor in this offense, and it's good to have him back out here."
TommyLee Lewis, who helped fill the void in Snead's absence, echoed similar sentiments.
"He's jumped right back in the mix, and he is bringing that energy and that passion," Lewis said. "He has handled it all well. You didn't see anything different while he was out. He was still engaged as much as he could be. He just wasn't there on game day. I know he will be geeked Sunday, and he'll be like Rambo come game day."
Snead can hardly wait.
He was eligible to return for the Saints' fourth game in London but was hindered by a hamstring injury. He was limited in practice Wednesday but said he will be ready Sunday.
Making it even more special is that Snead's return comes just two days before his 25th birthday.
"So it's like a good homecoming for me," Snead said. "My family is going to be there. Playing in the Dome after a big win on the road is going to be something great. I'm ready to go."