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Changing of the Guard Will Be Huge for Buffalo Bills Against Miami Dolphins

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COMMENTARY | This column is about the player Buffalo Bills fans are least aware of, but a guy who'll have a major albeit not blatantly obvious impact on today's game against the Miami Dolphins.

His name--Doug Legursky.

Everyone knows the holdovers from the 2012 team. The rookie class has received the notoriety it's deserved. Offseason acquisitions Manny Lawson, Jim Leonhard and Jerry Hughes have each logged a considerable amount of snaps and have been involved in a handful of big defensive plays this season.

Alan Branch, another newcomer, was forced into a more significant role along the defensive line after starter Alex Carrington was lost for the year against the New York Jets in Week 3.

That means Legursky is the most unfamiliar Bills player.

Until now.

The 6'1'', 315-pound Legursky was the lone free-agent pickup on the offensive side of the ball this offseason, and due to a preseason knee injury, he missed the first three games of the year. Though medically cleared, he didn't play in Week 4's win over the Baltimore Ravens and saw only one snap against the Cleveland Browns in Week 5.

In his absence, Bills guard Colin Brown set a new standard for ghastly offensive line play. He became the personification of the word "liability" in a football sense.

Pro Football Focus (subscription required) rated Brown as the worst guard in the league with a cumulative grade of -30.1 through six games.

Even if you despise what PFF does--you probably shouldn't--Will Rackley of the Jacksonville Jaguars is the next-lowest ranked guard on their positional list with a grade of -20.5.

Quite the disparity.

Against the Cincinnati Bengals, a healthy Legursky was finally able to get on the field which meant Brown was relegated to the sidelines.

The duo alternated in the first two quarters, but by halftime, the coaches made a decision.

Legursky was their guy.

The former Pittsburgh Steeler made his Bills debut against Geno Atkins, arguably the best defensive tackle in football. Upon re-watching the game, it was obvious that Legursky didn't dominate the reigning All-Pro, but he held his own, something Brown rarely, if ever did as the starter.

On Thad Lewis' touchdown run in the first quarter, Legursky actually pancaked Atkins to the ground. He appeared dramatically more spry and spatially aware than Brown ever was, chipping on his linemates' blocks and crisply contacting linebackers at the second level.

In essence, Legursky did what Brown couldn't do--go unnoticed.

Atkins and the mammoth Domata Peko got the best of the smaller, nimbler yet powerful offensive lineman on more than one occasion, but when Legursky was in the game for long stretches, Buffalo's offense was much more in sync.

C.J. Spiller carried the ball six times with Legursky in at guard and had runs of: -1, 2, 7, 9, 10, and 19 yards.

Interestingly, all of those runs were in Legursky's direction or featured him paving the way for Spiller to run through a hole or cutback from one.

He's much quicker and seemingly more decisive than Brown ever was, so don't be surprised if Bills offensive coordinator Nate Hackett calls a few more screen plays to Spiller and Fred Jackson with Legursky on the line.

This guy isn't the franchise savior at left guard. He's won't make the Pro Bowl this year. But with the disaster-causing Colin Brown cut and Doug Legursky a starter, the Buffalo Bills will be much more sturdy up front, a development from within their ranks that will benefit them against the Miami Dolphins and for the remainder of the season.

Chris Trapasso is a sportswriter who lives in Western New York and has been covering the Buffalo Bills and the NFL since 2009 for Bleacher Report.

For Bills and other NFL news, follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisTrapasso

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