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mesaSteeler
09-05-2009, 04:08 PM
Harris: Legursky makes NFL the hard way

By John Harris, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, September 5, 2009
About the writer

John Harris is a sports columnist for the Tribune-Review. He can be reached via e-mail or at 412-481-5432.

Of all the players earning a place on the Steelers' 53-man roster, Doug Legursky seems most out of place -- give or take Stefan Logan.

Logan, the half-pint, punt-return dynamo, was the talk of preseason, and rightfully so.

Logan is a refugee from the Canadian Football League, not famous for being a feeder system into the NFL.

Legursky attended Marshall, which is famous for producing NFL quarterbacks, not offensive linemen.

Legursky wasn't drafted, which doesn't make him unusual. There are many NFL players, including some of the all-time greats, who made it after being bypassed in the draft.

But tack on Legursky's lack of ideal height (6-foot-1), plus that teams placed his measurables ahead of his intangibles, and there you have it -- Legursky signed, sealed and delivered to the Steelers as a backup center/guard one year after joining the team as a rookie free agent.

"Coming off last year, being a practice-squad guy, I just wanted to come in and make the 53-man roster," Legursky said. "I wanted to make an impact and show that I'm the caliber of player who can play in this league. I think I've shown that through the preseason."

He has.

When starting center Justin Hartwig missed the preseason opener against Arizona because he was recovering from a foot injury, Legursky took the field with the first team. And when starting left guard Chris Kemoeatu missed the second exhibition game against Washington with a rib injury, there was Legursky again, lining up with the first team.

Legursky is the poster child for position flexibility.

Still, Legursky was taking nothing for granted following Thursday night's final exhibition game at Carolina. Dressing in front of his locker, Legursky, not unlike most undrafted players who always feel they need to prove themselves, spoke guardedly about his chances of making the team.

"It's their decision from here, and I'll just deal with whatever happens," he said.

Who could blame him?

The Steelers drafted someone to take his spot on the roster when they selected Penn State center A.Q. Shipley in the seventh round. Legursky beat him out.

Then, the Steelers signed veteran center Alex Stepanovich during training camp. Stepanovich was released before the Carolina game when he proved he couldn't play guard as effectively as Legursky.

"I hope that's what they see. That's really their call -- what they feel about my performance," Legursky said. "I'm just trying to be the best I can be, and everything else will work itself out.

"I'm happy, but there's a handful of plays out there that I wish I could change. There's a lot of stuff that I still need to get better on. I just take it day-by-day and play-by-play and try to get better."

Welcome to the Steelers, Doug Legursky -- he thinks.

Given that he entered the NFL through the back door, Legursky always will carry those scars from his rookie season because you never forget where you came from.