Legursky to start at RG vs. Panthers

Doug Legursky will be the latest to get a shot at right guard when he starts on Thursday against the Carolina Panthers in the Steelers final preseason game.

The Steelers have worked Ramon Foster, Tony Hills and Legursky at the position in the preseason as the battle for the job has been ongoing.

"He's getting his opportunity to play with the first unit at right guard," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "He is consistently competitive. He's got good technique, built-in leverage and he's a reliable guy.

"I think we can say the same thing about all the guys that we are looking at in their position. Ramon Foster has played and been highly reliable in that position. We won with both of those guys. Tony Hills has been a guy on the come. We've given him an opportunity because of that. We got some viable guys at their position, guys that have played above the line at their position. Competition is good. I am excited about it, and I am interested in seeing how Doug plays."

Legursky is looking forward to the opportunity.

"Going into the offseason I was going to fight for a starting position and that's what I was doing," said Legursky.

Legursky, who is 6-1, 315 pounds, doesn't fit the typical mold of an NFL guard and is often underestimated for it, but that doesn't bother him at all.

"I don't mind that at all," said Legursky. "I am not going to try and go around and convince people. I am going to just play the way I play and let it speak for itself.

"I am not going to worry about it now. No matter how tall you are, how big you are if you can play you can play. That is what I have shown the coaches here."

Tomlin said he doesn't buy into the "cookie-cutter" mentality, but even he joked he wasn't blown away when he first looked at Legursky's size when he was a rookie in 2007.

"A couple years ago I will admit he wasn't much to look at," said Tomlin. "But my wife says the same thing about me."

Charlie Batch will start at quarterback against the Panthers, and get work along with Dennis Dixon. The two players are battling for the back-up quarterback job with Byron Leftwich sidelined with a broken left arm.

"We will have Charlie Batch start with the first group initially," said Tomlin. "Dennis Dixon will play. We haven't decided the distribution of reps. All we have decided is that Charlie will start first and Dennis will also play."

Thursday night's game will be a final warm-up for some young players, as starters will not play as long as they have most of the preseason.

For some players this could be an opportunity to make the roster.

"I showed the guys a video this morning," said Tomlin. "As we sat here last year at this time, Stevenson Sylvester was on the outside looking in. He was a third-team inside linebacker. Patrick Bailey was a second-team outside linebacker. Stevenson Sylvester made enough plays in this game to convince us that he should stay. And that's being as frank as I can be.

"There are many other types of examples that you can look at. A couple years ago, (Stefan) Logan made this team in this game. I am not trying to place too much emphasis on it, but I do acknowledge decisions are undecided and how guys perform will be a factor on the other side of it."

It's not just in the game the players know they have to be at their best, but in practice and in meetings they must be on top of things.

"Every day is an interview, not just the games but in practice," said second-year running back Jonathan Dwyer. "You have to make an impression and show the coaches they can trust you so they can depend on you when the game is on the line."

Dwyer said it's important to take advantage of the opportunity this week, but you can't let the pressure get to you and just stay focused on the task at hand.

"I am going to take advantage of it and do the best I can and do whatever they tell me to do," said Dwyer. "This game is a blessing, it's an opportunity. You are a grown man playing a kid's game. You have to go out each week and have fun. You have to prepare yourself throughout the week and then it's about you being the player you are and play your game."

Since Ben Roethlisberger isn't playing this week, he is looking a little bit ahead right now, and he likes what he sees heading in to the 2011 season.

"The sky is the limit for this offense and for some of these guys," said Roethlisberger. "We can be as good as we want to be if we limit the mistakes and play football the way we can. But it's way too early to start talking about one individual or us as an offense."

Roethlisberger, who joked that the Steelers will always be known for defense and "this team will never be an offensive team," is looking for the offense to be a balanced attack this year.

"I have said for a long time I just want to be balanced, that is when we are at our best," said Roethlisberger. "As long as we utilize our weapons and don't just put guys out there that are a dangerous threat and let them block or run off. We need to use them as much as we can."

Injury update from Tomlin: "From an injury standpoint Ike Taylor will not participate, Chris Carter will not and Jerricho Cotchery will not. Other than those guys we are undecided on the remaining guys with bumps and bruises. We will make the determination after we work tomorrow morning before we take off. Those guys are James Farrior, Troy (Polamalu), Casey Hampton, Bryant McFadden, (Maurkice) Pouncey and maybe a few others with nicks here and there.

"This time of year you make those decisions as late as you possibly can.  You want to give everybody an opportunity to show what they are capable of.  And quite frankly, playing with nicks and so forth are part of the evaluation process because we all acknowledge that pain and discomfort are just as much a part of this game as blocking and tackling in many regards."

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