Nate Burleson sounded optimistic when asked today if he might play Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the first time since breaking his left forearm in a pizza-related car accident.

“I’m saying there’s a chance,” Burleson said. “Like I said a couple weeks ago, I prepare every week as if I’m going to play. I want to play, I want to get out on the field. Still got to be smart and listen to the doctors and listen to the coaches, but the week started off good, getting into the gameplan and trying to figure out if I got a role this week, which looks like there’s a possibility.”

Burleson broke his forearm in two places Sept. 24 when he crashed his car into a median while trying to save two pizzas from sliding off his passenger seat.

He has missed seven straight games, but practiced the last two weeks and has suffered no setbacks with his injury.

Burleson, the Lions’ leading receiver with 19 catches for 239 yards at the time of the accident, plans to wear a Kevlar brace on his arm when he returns and said he’ll have to modify the way he plays.

“I’m not going to be diving over piles and trying to run people over,” Burleson said. “I’m going to try to have a little bit of preservation to the way I play. But I’m not concerned about that one bit. I’m actually looking forward to it and like I said, I get paid to play and I haven’t played in a long time, so I’ve got a lot of time to make up for it.”

Burleson should give the Lions’ offense an immediate boost once he’s back.

The Lions (6-4) still haven’t developed a reliable No. 2 receiver to play alongside Calvin Johnson, and Jeremy Ross, who’s filled in at Burleson’s slot position the last three games, had a key drop in last week’s 37-27 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Burleson said he understands why the team erred on the side of caution and kept him inactive the last two weeks, and he said he’s “a lot” further along in the healing process and when it comes to grip strength and the ability to pronate his forearm.

“Just practicing and catching the ball, one, it allows me to know that I don’t have any pain with catching from a quarterback, and then, two, to be honest, I think it gave everybody around me just a little bit of confidence,” Burleson said. “They haven’t seen me catch the ball, so to come out and be productive and catch the ball in practice, people kind of nodding their head like, ‘OK, he’s picking up where he left off.’ And that’s my mindset.