Domata Peko worked out for the Ravens a couple weeks ago and got an offer, but didn’t accept. At that time, he didn’t feel like it was the right fit.
Instead, Peko bided his time hanging out in California, coaching his kid’s youth football team and using team drills as a way to stay in shape.
Then he watched Lamar Jackson and the Ravens beat the undefeated New England Patriots and blow out the Cincinnati Bengals.
“Just watching them play and how it’s exciting it’s been, I was like, ‘Man, did I make a mistake?’” Peko said Wednesday before his first practice. “I prayed about it. I felt like God opened the door again for me. Once he opened that door again, I said I got to go.
“I get to play with Lamar Jackson. That’s freaking awesome. This guy is unreal. He’s something you haven’t seen in a while. He brings some excitement to the game and he’s probably one of the most exciting quarterbacks to watch right now. It’s fun to be a part of it.”
After Michael Pierce suffered an ankle injury in Cincinnati, the Ravens wanted to bolster their defensive line depth. They reached back out to Peko, knowing him quite well after his 11 seasons playing for the Bengals (2006-2016). Peko spent the past two seasons in Denver.
Peko said it was "a little weird" to see himself in purple, but he's excited to join a defense he's long had respect for and be on the sideline with a guy he's battled many times, Marshal Yanda.
“I’m super excited to be here in Baltimore and make a run,” Peko said. “That’s why I’m here – to help the defense out, as a 14-year vet, as a nose man. I feel like I can come right in and do my job and do my part to help us win.”
The Houston Texans rank fourth in the NFL in rushing yards per game (142.8), led by running back Carlos Hyde. The Ravens’ resurgence on defense since back-to-back games of allowing more than 500 yards started with doing a better job against the run.
The Ravens already hit big with the midseason signings of veteran inside linebackers Josh Bynes and L.J. Fort, as well as the trade for cornerback Marcus Peters. Baltimore is hoping Peko and Ellis can also make an immediate impact.
Peko can stop the run and be a disruptive force in the middle (he had five sacks in 2015). Ellis is 25 pounds heavier and more of a true run plugger and blocks eater.
“I’ve come to fill gaps and knock back blockers – stop the run,” said Ellis, who spent the past five seasons in Oakland. “It’s a great opportunity to join a great defense. It’s a great time to be in Baltimore.”