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Domata Peko knows expectations are higher in Denver

Posted May 16, 2017

What differences has Peko seen in his few weeks with the Broncos?

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Domata Peko hasn’t played a game yet for the Broncos, but he’s well aware of the standard in Denver.

It’s no secret the Broncos have more Super Bowl appearances (7) than losing seasons (5) under Owner Pat Bowlen’s direction. And that resume creates expectations that Peko knows are higher than in most other NFL cities.

That’s even true in Cincinnati, where Peko played his first 11 seasons and helped the Bengals make six playoff appearances in an eight-season stretch. But the Bengals could never find that elusive playoff win.

“In Cincy, we were kind of always talking about, ‘Oh, I want to win a playoff game. I want to win a playoff game,’” Peko said. “But over here, we’re talking about winning championships. That’s what brought me here. I want to win a championship.”

The 32-year-old nose guard chose Denver in part because of his desire to win a title and in part because his cousin, defensive lineman Kyle Peko, is on the roster. Kyle’s presence gave Domata stability even in light of a move away from a city where he had played his whole career.

But Peko has also found familiarity on the football field. Though he’s transitioned from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4, he’s still in a spot where he’s very comfortable: right over the center. And that’s where, as he said Tuesday afternoon, he makes his money.

“Being in the AFC North, it’s a really tough run type of [division],” Peko said. “And being a nose guard [for] over a decade, that’s what I do. I like to clog up the middle of the field. I like to fill up those run lanes that were kind of lacking last year.”

Peko’s teammates along the line are tough, just as they were in Cincinnati, but he senses a different kind of intensity in Denver. And they’re expecting improvement.

The Broncos are months away from seeing the results, but even in walkthroughs, Peko said he has sensed the chemistry between Derek Wolfe, Jared Crick, Adam Gotsis and a number of other players in Defensive Line Coach Bill Kollar’s room. 

“Coach Bill, he’s a heck of a coach,” Peko said. “He really gets after you, and what I love about Coach Bill is that he has no favorites. If you’re a young guy, if you’re an old guy, he’s going to tell you how it is. So I really love it here.” 

Peko may be closer to “old guy” on the scale, but Strength and Conditioning Coach Luke Richesson has him in “the best shape I’ve ever been in.”

If that’s the case, then Peko should be poised for success in the Broncos’ plans to become more physical against the run.

Because if there’s one thing Peko enjoys, it’s hitting people.

“I still have that hunger that I want to get a ring,” Peko said. "I want to win a championship, and that’s what keeps me going. Also my family, playing for my children, my wife – those are motivations. I think that’s what’s keeping me young, keeping me live.

“You see guys, when they get a little older, they start losing their love for the game but for me, I still love waking up in the morning, coming out here, hitting O-linemen and hitting running backs. That’s fun to me. I love this stuff.”