The newest contender for a significant role on the Buffalo Bills’ offensive line got thrown directly into the action on his first day on the practice field.
Doug Legursky, a fifth-year veteran signed as a free agent from the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, worked mostly with the second unit at the Bills’ uncertain left-guard position. Then late in the practice he got some series with the starters.
“It feels good after spending so much time in free agency and not on a squad to have a team that wanted me to be a part of their organization and trusted me to come in here and take some pretty quality snaps,” Legursky said. “Coming to a new organization, I have to prove everything again, and I’m fine doing that.”
Legursky is a 6-foot-1, 323-pounder who was undrafted out of Marshall in 2009. He started four games in 2010, 10 in 2011 and three in 2012, working at both guard and center for the Steelers.
Pittsburgh has a first-round draft pick, David DeCastro, coming back from a season-long injury this year and opted not to push to sign Legursky when he hit free agency.
Legursky’s frame is smaller than the prototype at guard, which is why he didn’t get drafted.
Legursky got good coaching the past three years from Sean Kugler, the Lockport native who coached the offensive line in Buffalo before shifting to Pittsburgh in 2010. Kugler now is head coach at Texas-El Paso.
“Kugs is family to me now,” Legursky said. “We went down to Texas-El Paso for his golf tournament. He’s like another dad to me. He’d probably get mad if he heard that. ... But he’s just a great guy and a great coach. I pride myself in not making mistakes. ... I pride myself in implementing what I learned from him and trying to be the person he is every day.”
Colin Brown took most of the first-team snaps at left guard before giving way to Legursky.
The Bills are working without No. 3 tackle Chris Hairston and backup guard Keith Williams, who are rehabilitating from injuries. Sam Young, who has worked a lot at guard, has shifted back to his natural position, tackle.
“Sam moved back outside a little bit,” coach Doug Marrone said. “I liked the job he was doing inside. Then we became short inside. I became concerned, so I wanted to bring another player in. Fortunately for us Doug was out there.
“I think he adds to the mix. ... We threw him out to see what he could do.
“I think he’s a pretty good swing player. He’s shown that before, to play guard and center. He’ll compete for one of those positions. ... Colin’s in there, Doug’s in there. We might put some other players in there.”
Safety Jairus Byrd was the only player not in attendance. Byrd has not yet signed the franchise-tag offer the Bills made to him in February to essentially keep him in the fold. Because of that, he is not holding out, and he is not subject to any fine from the team.
The Bills have until July 15 to reach agreement on a long-term deal with Byrd. After that, he would have to play on the one-year franchise tag offer, which is worth $6.9 million.
“The way I’ve always looked at it, it’s kind of like you have rights,” Marrone said of a player with a franchise tag.
“He has a right not to be here. And I respect him for that. For me, I’m not going to worry about things that are out of my control and I’m going to concentrate on the players that are here.”
Veteran free-agent signees Manny Lawson and Alan Branch were on the practice field for the first time since the voluntary veteran minicamp prior to the draft. Lawson worked with the second unit, Branch worked with the second and third units.
Besides Hairston and Williams, other players who were held out due to injury were defensive tackle Kyle Williams and tight end Lee Smith.