Legursky up for start

He was undrafted out of Marshall two years ago, but Doug Legursky has made rapid strides and will start at right guard for the Steelers on Sunday.

PITTSBURGH – As Larry Zierlein was leaving town this past off-season, the former Steelers offensive line coach advised to keep an eye on a little-used reserve, a plucky and undrafted center-guard out of Marshall named Doug Legursky.

Zierlein proved right. Not only did Legursky make the team over last year's third-round draft pick Kraig Urbik, he was kept over last year's starting center, Justin Hartwig. And this with first-round draft pick Maurkice Pouncey moving into the lineup.

It was part of a necessary upgrade inside, but not only did Legursky make the team, he's starting the third game of the season at right guard.

"He just has a great grasp of the offense and he knows what he's doing," said left tackle Max Starks. "When he's out there, it's almost like having a second center because he recognizes and calls out plays."

Legursky, of course, is a natural center. He was a three-time All-Conference USA center at Marshall University, where he started his final 32 games. Undrafted, Legursky signed with the Steelers in 2008, was released twice before the start of the season, but joined the practice squad on Oct. 1 after right guard Kendall Simmons injured his Achilles' tendon.

Legursky made the active roster in 2009, dressed for eight games, played in two as a right guard, one as a left guard and one as a fullback, no appearances lasting more than one series – until last week. The 6-1, 323-pounder replaced injured Trai Essex at right guard at Tennessee for a dozen snaps and will start Sunday at Tampa Bay.

"We looked over tape and I had a pretty good game," Legursky said of last Sunday's game. "There were some things we could've done better. I could've done better technique-wise on a few things. We were pretty clean on assignment stuff. We just have to grow from that. I got my first opportunity to show what I could do. I'll have another opportunity this week to prove I can play in this league."

As Starks pointed out, Legursky can play all three interior positions and has become one of the team's most valuable reserves. Who could've seen that coming two years ago?

"I'm not surprised, but it was definitely tough to see it back a couple years ago," he said. "I'm sure others are surprised. That's fine. I don't mind being the underdog. A lot of people overlooked me in the past. That's fine with me. I just need to stay focused on working hard, staying humble, and going out there and doing my best."

Not that he's living the life of a highly paid NFL player. Legursky said he lives a simple life with his wife and dog in Pittsburgh. The couple still has their place amid family back home in Beckley, West Virginia.

Did Legursky grow up a Steelers fan?

"No, actually I was a Dallas fan," he said with a sly grin. "In West Virginia we don't have a pro team so everybody cheers for the Steelers or the Cowboys. My old man was a Dallas fan so I automatically became a Dallas fan. But I always did respect the Steelers and everything they did and the way they played football. I just couldn't root against the Cowboys with my old man around. You know how that goes."

Legursky actually possesses the work ethic and humility of the stereotypical Pittsburgh Steeler, which is the much-chronicled opposite of the glitz and gloss of the stereotypical Dallas Cowboy.

"Like I said, I always respected the Steelers for what they did and what they stood for and the nitty-gritty football that they played," he said. "I always did like that. But don't let my old man hear that."

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