Fantasy Island

NFL PreseasonSan Francisco 49ersBen RoethlisbergerTom BradyBuffalo BillsNew England PatriotsSammy Morris

Treasure

Show of hands, who was worried about Willie Parker? Fess up, it's OK. Passing on Parker in your draft was an easy trap to fall into, what with the Steelers' speedster coming off a touchdown-deficient 2007 season that was cut short by a broken leg and first-round rookie runner Rashard Mendenhall waiting in the wings.

Turns out Mendenhall will be more project than prodigy so Parker took the ball and, well, ran with it. He had 138 yards and a career-high three TD runs on 25 carries.Parker ran for two touchdowns all last season. Can he return to his 13 TD form of 2006? Cleveland will be a good place to keep rolling next week, even though the Browns will buckle down after their debacle against the Cowboys.

"It was fun to watch Willie Parker be Willie Parker," Ben Roethlisberger said.

Yes, it sure was.

Off course

Bill Belichick must have started sharing notes with Denver's Mike Shanahan, because the Patriots coach is being shady about settling on a starter at running back.

The bad news: Laurence Maroney split carries with Sammy Morris, with each getting 50-plus yards on 10 carries. And, of course, the lesser-owned Morris netted the touchdown.

Why is New England so hesitant to hand the reins to Maroney? He was a beast at the close of last season, rushing for nearly 600 yards and seven TDs in six games, including the playoffs.

The good news: Tom Brady's injury catastrophe may have the Pats shifting gears to the ground game. So Maroney will be getting ample carries -- even if he's splitting time -- with a shot to make that starting job all his own.

Shipwreck

Thoughts on the exhibition season: The Lions go 4-0 and promptly get plastered by the Falcons in their opener. So by missing most of the supposedly meaningless preseason with a back injury, Matt Hasselbeck should've been fresh and raring to go for Week 1, right? Wrong.

The Seahawks QB completed only one of his first eight passes against the Bills, and finished 17 of 41 for 190 yards, with a touchdown and an interception

The usually steady if not spectacular Hasselbeck should turn it around against the 49ers next week.

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