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NFL Players of the Week -- Week #1

AFC

OFFENSE: RB Willie Parker, Pittsburgh Steelers
In a 38-17 win over the Texans on Kickoff Weekend, Parker rushed for 138 yards (5.5 avg.) on 25 attempts and tied a franchise record with three rushing touchdowns in his first game back since suffering a broken leg in Week 16 against the St. Louis Rams (12/20/07).  Parker scored on runs of 7, 13 and 4 yards and became the first Pittsburgh running back to reach the end zone three times since JEROME BETTIS (1/1/06).  The former undrafted free agent posted 100 rushing yards for the fourth time of his career on opening day as he helped the Steelers win their sixth consecutive on Kickoff Weekend.  Parker’s 138 rushing yards in Week 1 led the AFC and ranked second in the NFL (MICHAEL TURNER, 220 yards).

In his fifth season from North Carolina, this is Parker’s third career Player of the Week Award.  Parker last won the award in Week 10 of 2006.

DEFENSE: CB Cortland Finnegan, Tennessee Titans
Entering his second season as a full-time starter, Finnegan registered a career-high two interceptions and seven tackles as the Titans defeated the Jaguars 17-10 for their second consecutive win on Kickoff Weekend.  In a key AFC South match-up, Finnegan picked off Jaguars’ quarterback DAVID GARRARD twice in the second half and helped the Titans limit Jacksonville to 189 total yards.  The former seventh-round selection posted his first interception in the third quarter while wrestling the ball away from Jacksonville wide receiver TROY WILLIAMSON, and his second interception came midway through the fourth quarter on the Titans’ 43-yard line.  Finnegan led the NFL with two interceptions on Kickoff Weekend.

In his third year from Samford, this is Finnegan’s first career Player of the Week Award.  The last Tennessee player to be named AFC Defensive Player of the Week was linebacker KEITH BULLUCK in 2007 (Week 3).

SPECIAL TEAMS: WR-PR Roscoe Parrish, Buffalo Bills
Parrish, who led the NFL with a 16.3 punt return average last season, is off to a fast start in 2008.  The 5-9, 168-pound returner totaled a franchise record 120 punt return yards (20.0 avg.) on six returns, including a second quarter 63-yard PR-TD en route to a 34-10 victory over Seattle on Kickoff Weekend.  His PR-TD was the third of his career, and he became the first player in NFL history with a punt return touchdown in consecutive season openers.  Parrish also tied the franchise record for most career punt return touchdowns (KEITH MOODY, 3) and surpassed JEFF BURRIS (1,045) for most career punt return yards in Bills history with 1,110.

In his fourth season from Miami (Fl.), this is Parrish’s second career Player of the Week Award.  He previously won the award in 2006 (Week 12).  The last Buffalo player to win Special Teams Player of the Week was K RIAN LINDELL in 2007.

NFC

OFFENSE: RB Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons
In his first game with Atlanta, Turner set a franchise record with 220 rushing yards (GERALD RIGGS, 202 yards, September 2, 1984) in the Falcons’ 34-21 victory over Detroit.  Turner’s 220 rushing yards were the most in NFL history by a player in his first game with a team and the second-highest total on Kickoff Weekend in league annals (Pro Football Hall of Famer O.J SIMPSON, 250 yards, September 16, 1973).  The five-year veteran, who signed with Atlanta as an unrestricted free agent after serving as a back-up to San Diego’s LA DAINIAN TOMLINSON, scored a career-high two touchdowns on the day, including a 66-yard score.  He carried the ball 22 times and averaged 10.0 yards per attempt.  The Falcons finished with a team-record 318 rushing yards.

In his fifth season from Northern Illinois, this is Turner’s first career Player of the Week Award.  He is the first Falcons running back to win the award since WARRICK DUNN in 2003 (Week 10).  The last Atlanta player to be named NFC Offensive Player of the Week on Kickoff Weekend was Riggs in 1984, when he rushed for a then-team record 202 yards.

DEFENSE: DE Adewale Ogunleye, Chicago Bears
Ogunleye had six tackles, including three for losses, one which resulted in a safety in the Bears’ 29-13 victory at Indianapolis on Sunday night in a rematch of Super Bowl XLI.  In the first game at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Bears handed the Colts their first September loss since 2004.  In the second quarter, with Chicago ahead 10-6, Ogunleye extended the lead by tackling the Indianapolis running back in the end zone for a safety.  For the game, the Bears held Indianapolis to 293 total yards.  In addition to the safety, Chicago’s defense scored when cornerback CHARLES TILLMAN forced a fumble that linebacker LANCE BRIGGS returned for a touchdown.

In his eighth year from Indiana, this is Ogunleye’s third career Player of the Week Award.  Ogunleye won the award twice with the Miami Dolphins (Week 11, 2002 and Week 3, 2003).  The last Bear to be named NFC Defensive Player of the Week on Kickoff Weekend was Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive tackle DAN HAMPTON in 1989.

SPECIAL TEAMS: PR-KR Will Blackmon, Green Bay Packers
With the Packers ahead 10-6 in the third quarter, Blackmon increased the lead with a 76-yard punt-return touchdown in Green Bay’s 24-19 victory on Monday night over the division-rival Minnesota Vikings.  For the night, Blackmon averaged 26.0 yards per punt return (three returns, 78 yards) and 23.0 yards per kickoff return (three returns, 69 yards).  The touchdown was the third of his career and his second on a punt return.  Blackmon’s previous two touchdowns came last year versus Oakland (December 9, 2007) when he recovered a fumble in the end zone and returned a punt 57 yards for a score.

In his third season from Boston College, this is Blackmon’s second career Player of the Week Award.  He was honored in Week 14 of last year for his two-touchdown performance against Oakland.

All information within this post obtained from NFL Media.