But Legursky will return to left guard today, a position he snatched last week from four-year starter Chris Kemoeatu.
"He's been playing outstanding all year," said Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. "He's earned it. He was a starter and got hurt and came back and he played extremely well the other night."
Arians said that if Legursky "were four inches taller he'd be in the Pro Bowl."
Legursky is 6 feet 1, 315 pounds. Even though he was a three-year All-Conference USA performer at the University of Marshall, and holds school weightlifting records in the squat (705) and hang clean (430), Legursky was overlooked in the draft before catching on with the Steelers. Now, he and fellow undrafted free agent Ramon Foster are the team's starting guards.
"The draft is so much about measurables and less about tape," Arians said. "I think we do a good job here, and Kevin [Colbert] and his entire group [of scouts] put a lot of stock in how you play football, not how you measure. These guys were good football players at really good programs. Dougie started, what, 44 games at Marshall and Ramon was a swing tackle on both sides so he had great position flexibility. The main ingredient for those kinds of guys is they're tough and they're smart. That overcomes whatever limitabilities that they have."
While the Steelers apparently shop in the bargain bins for guards, they scout the top shelves for gunners on special teams.
This year, the Steelers' third and fourth-round draft picks – Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen – have the first and third-most tackles on special teams. They're sparking a punt-return defense that ranks seventh in the NFL with an average allowed return of 7.3 yards. Last year the Steelers were 18th at 9.2.
"We have a great coach in coach Amos [Jones]," said Allen. "When we get out there, we know we're going to have to fight for everything. That's the kind of players, the kind of people, we are. We're going to give all we have, and it's been successful for us."
"They're doing the job," said special-teams captain Arnaz Battle. "Playing gunner is really want-to and getting down there and getting it done – speed and determination and heart. I think those two young guys are playing with a lot of energy, giving us great effort, and it's showing on the field."
Allen, the fourth-round pick from The Citadel, is a physical marvel at 6-1, 196. His strength became evident as a fourth cornerback when he slammed New England tight end Dan Gronkowski backward after a catch near the first-down stick. Allen can bench press 345 pounds and at the combine bench-pressed 225 pounds 18 times. His speed became evident a few weeks later when he chased down Bengals slot receiver Andrew Hawkins on third down in the open field and slammed him to the ground.
Brown, the third-round pick from Texas, won that school's Most Valuable Special Teams Player award as a junior. He leads the Steelers with 10 special teams tackles.
"Those two young guys are exceptional," Battle said. "A lot of guys have speed and ability on the outside, but if you don't have the want-to and the determination you're not going to be as effective, and I think those guys have really eliminated a lot of the good returners we've played this year."
PASSING THE TORCH
One wide receiver from the University of Georgia, Hines Ward, is fading into the twilight of a legendary career for the Steelers. Another, rookie A.J. Green, is just getting started on what appears will be a similarly spectacular career.
"Hines is one of the great receivers, a future Hall of Famer I think," said Green. "Coming from Georgia, I watched him growing up. He's had a lot of success at both levels."
Green said coaches back on campus "want [Ward] to come back and coach the receivers. They really still love him around Athens."
Ward needs 15 catches to reach 1,000 for his career, and he needs only 9 yards to become the 19th player in NFL history with 12,000 yards receiving.
Green, the 6-foot-4 jumping jack, outleaped Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark to catch a 36-yard touchdown pass in his first game against the Steelers. He hyperextended his knee on the play and missed the rest of the game, and the next one, before returning last week to make an acrobatic catch that turned into a 51-yard gain to set up the game-winning field goal against the Cleveland Browns.
"That's why he was the fourth pick of the draft," said Bengals coach Marvin Lewis. "I have not seen a receiver better than he is at getting to the ball. I said that after three days of training camp."
Look for Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor to hound Green all over Heinz Field this afternoon.