Bengals Without A Key Defensive Component, Too

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 9, 2009 – 8:31 am

When the Vikings and Bengals line up against one another this Sunday at Mall of America Field, the home team will be without a key component in the middle of its defense – LB E.J. Henderson.

But Cincinnati will also be missing a key cog in the middle of its defense – DT Domata Peko.

Peko is a 6-3, 318-pound run-stuffing DT who, like Pat Williams for the Vikings, often contributes in a manner that isn’t reflected in box scores. He often commands double teams, which in turn opens things up for his defensive teammates. On Sunday, however, his teammates will be without him because Peko had arthroscopic knee surgery and may not return until January.

Peko sprained his MCL against Oakland on November 22, played the following week versus Cleveland but then sat out last week against Detroit.

Although Peko might not be a household name around Minnesota, his absence won’t go unnoticed by the Bengals. He was a 4th round choice back in 2006 but has quickly developed into a mainstay along the defensive line. Last season he started all 16 games for the 2nd consecutive year and he led all Bengals defensive linemen with 108 tackles; he also led the team in tackles for losses.

Backup DT Orien Harris will likely start in Peko’s place on Sunday. Harris has been in the league since 2006 but doesn’t have much playing experience.

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