SAN DIEGO -- Three weeks ago, Doug Legursky wasn’t on quarterback Philip Rivers' radar. But fast forward to this week, and the 7-year veteran could be making his second start at center for the San Diego Chargers.
"I feel completely confident with him," Rivers said. "Thank goodness he was there, and we were able to get him. If you would’ve told me Doug Legursky would have been the center three weeks ago, I would have said, 'How? He is not on our team.'"
When 11-year veteran Nick Hardwick was placed on the season-ending injured reserve after a Week 1 loss to Arizona because of a neck issue, Chargers general manager Tom Telesco scoured the free agent market looking for depth up front, and found Legursky.
Legursky had experience on his side. He has started 29 games in the NFL, including Super Bowl XLV while with Pittsburgh after Steelers starter Maurkice Pouncey suffered an ankle injury in the AFC Championship Game against the New York Jets.
Signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Tampa Bay in 2008, Legursky eventually landed on Pittsburgh’s practice squad and spent five seasons with the Steelers. In 2013 he started 11 games for Buffalo. Legursky was released by the Bills during final roster cuts in August.
Legursky, 28, made his first start for San Diego last week against Jacksonville because of lingering back issues that kept starter Rich Ohrnberger inactive.
"I had a pretty good feeling about it throughout the week," Legursky said. "His back wasn’t doing too well. So I always prepare as if I’m going to start anyway, so it really wasn’t that much of a difference to me."
Legursky had his share of hiccups against the Jaguars, including a couple bad snaps and a false start. But Legursky said he feels like he can get those things ironed out this week if he has to start again on Sunday when the Jets come to town.
"It’s been pretty smooth," Legursky said about the transition. "Coming in at the beginning, there was a lot to take in, especially with the complexity of this playbook. But I feel like I’ve got ahold of it pretty well. Now it’s just about executing."
Legursky is known for his strength. At 6-foot-1 and 315 pounds, Legursky set weight room records in college at Marshall for the squat (705 pounds) and the hang clean (430). He also has picked up things quickly from a scheme standpoint.
"There are certain things when you’re with a guy 10 years that went unsaid," Rivers said. "Or I may have said even something wrong, and Nick knew what I meant. And Rich was somewhere in between. And then it’s starting from scratch here with Doug.
"But I’m super excited that he’s here, being the situation we found ourselves in. I thought he did a heck of a job the other day. We had some little things that we’ll get ironed out, but he really played well."
One thing that should help on Sunday with the Chargers playing an unpredictable Rex Ryan-led defense is that Legursky has faced New York several times in the past, both with Pittsburgh and in Buffalo.
"I was in their division last year, and all those years in Pittsburgh we always played them," Legursky said. "So it’s always an interesting game to go against those guys. It’s not one of those weeks where you’re just hitting the middle linebacker every play because they’re in a 3-4 over. It’s going to be fun. We’re definitely going to break a mental sweat too, that’s for sure."