ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — For the first time since 2009, Domata Peko Sr. will have to watch his team play without him in a regular-season game.
His 123-game starting streak will come to an end on Sunday as he watches from his home in Denver with his family.
"It's kind of weird," Peko said. "I was talking to one my other teammates about it. I was like, 'Dude, I don't even know.' It's been a while. I forgot what it feels like to miss practice. When I'm seeing all my guys go out there to work and just sitting in there in the training room, it gets lonely in there. I'm just going to work my tail off and try to get a new streak going. One hundred and twenty-three, man, I thank God for that. It was a good run. But I've got to keep working hard to rehab and get back on the field."
Peko had prepared diligently with the hopes of keeping his streak alive, but as the week progressed, he could not feel confident in the strength of his knee, which was injured during the Broncos' game against the Raiders in Week 12.
"All week I was trying to be positive with it, but just running around yesterday and in the pool today, just jogging in there, I just felt that my knee wasn't stable," Peko said. "And being in the trenches, you can't have a bad wheel. You've got to be 100 percent in there. I don't want to go out there at 75 percent and someone falls into me. That's not going to do us any good."
From his home in Denver, Peko will have an eye on his position group on Sunday. After the defensive line lost Peko and Derek Wolfe to injuries last week, the Broncos' young linemen will have to step up, and that excites Peko.
"Seeing Zach [Kerr] out there making plays, he did a hell of a job for us," Peko said, reflecting on Kerr's game against the Raiders. "... That's the name of the game. When guys go down, someone else has to step up, and Zach did a great job with that. I'm excited to see him progress. And I'm also excited for my young cousin Kyle. This is a chance for him to go out there and prove himself and do his thing. I'm going to be cheering for him as well."
As for himself, Peko is hopeful he can return to practice in preparation for the Broncos' game against the Jets, but he's not focusing on a timetable.
"Honestly, I'm just going to play it day-to-day, see how I feel every day," Peko said. "I'm going to try to get back as soon as I can and once I feel like I'm back to normal, back to myself, then I'll be out there." His goal is simple: "I just want to get back to 100 percent and get back out in the field and start wrecking. Start doing my job."