Baltimore Ravens new defensive tackle Justin Ellis is excited to be a part of the team.
Veteran defensive tackle Domata Peko was waiting at home in Calabasas, California, for the right situation to extend his 14-year career. He bid his time by coaching his son’s high school football team and jumping into individual drills with the teenagers to stay in shape.
Peko worked out for the Ravens weeks ago and the team had intentions of signing him but Peko declined, explaining he was searching for “the perfect fit.” As he watched the Ravens win five consecutive games, led by prolific second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson, Peko wondered if he had let a golden chance pass by him.
“Just watching them play and how it’s exciting it’s been, I was like, ‘Man, did I make a mistake?’” Peko said. “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.”
The Ravens’ rising profile (as well as defensive tackle Michael Pierce’s ankle injury) were enough to convince Peko. When the Ravens called on Monday for the second time, he couldn’t refuse.
The Ravens announced the signing of Peko, along with defensive tackle Justin Ellis, adding depth to a defensive line that looked vulnerable in the wake of the injury Pierce suffered Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“I’m super excited to be here in Baltimore and make a run,” Peko said Wednesday, speaking to reporters for the first time. “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.”
Peko and Ellis join a defense that hasn’t been reluctant to bring in new players and ask them to quickly take on a major role. Inside linebackers Josh Bynes and L.J. Fort, defensive lineman Jihad Ward and cornerback Marcus Peters have all joined the team midseason and played significant snaps on defense.
The two veterans said they noticed the Ravens’ strides in recent weeks and the opportunities that came with joining a contending team.
“I get to play with Lamar Jackson, that’s freaking awesome,” Peko said. “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 a great time to be in Baltimore,” Ellis said.
Pierce misses practice
Pierce (ankle) was one of five Ravens who didn’t practice Wednesday. Coach John Harbaugh on Monday said Pierce is “day-to-day” and that there is a chance he plays this Sunday against the Houston Texans.
Cornerback Brandon Carr (non-injury related), running back Mark Ingram (non-injury related), cornerback Jimmy Smith (NIR) and safety Earl Thomas III (NIR/knee) also did not practice.
Rookie wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown (ankle) and wide receiver Chris Moore (thumb) were limited.
The Texans, returning from their bye, had every player practice in some fashion. Six players were limited: linebacker Dylan Cole (knee), wide receiver Will Fuller V (hamstring), safety Tashaun Gipson Sr. (back/wrist), guard/tackle Tytus Howard (knee), cornerback Bradley Roby (hamstring) and tackle Laremy Tunsil (shoulder).
>> Rookie cornerback Iman Marshall said he is ready to contribute after the team on Tuesday activated him from injured reserve to the 53-man roster. Marshall said a torn capsule in his big toe, along with turf toe, has sidelined him for the team’s first nine games.
Coach John Harbaugh and special teams coach Chris Horton have said Marshall could initially contribute on special teams.
“I understand, you’ve got to play your part,” Marshall said. “That’s my part and I’m excited to be a part of that position and do what I need to help contribute in any aspect of the game.”
>> Harbaugh announced that his daughter, Alison Harbaugh, will sign a national letter of intent on Wednesday to play lacrosse at the University of Notre Dame.