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Top-20 Bengals Of 2012: No. 13 Defensive Tackle Domata Peko

"I believe I can fly. I believe I can touch the sky..."
"I believe I can fly. I believe I can touch the sky..."


There are few players on the Bengals roster to who seem to care more about the club more than defensive tackle, Domata Peko. Not only does he seem to have a never-ending motor, but he's also assumed a leadership role over the past couple of seasons. He really emerged as a leader going into the 2011 season when the team was forced to come up with players-only practices because of the lockout. Peko was one of the organizers of these practices and attempted to do his best Mike Zimmer impression.

With the emergence of Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap since 2010, Peko has begun to be a bit overshadowed. On top of the that, the team invested two high draft picks in Devon Still and Brandon Thompson in the 2012 Draft. And, even though he's been part of a rotation on the line, Peko is very valuable to the team's defense. Zimmer himself has called him "the best defensive tackle he's ever worked with".

Aside from being an on-field coach for the defense, Peko had one of his best seasons in 2011. He was one short of tying his career high in tackles by racking up 66 total. He also tied his career high in sacks with 2.5--his best since his rookie year of 2006, as well as racking up a forced fumble and a recovery. He's also a pretty awesome fullback if you want him to channel his inner William "refrigerator" Perry.

Though some may view him as a tad overrated, Peko is the heart and soul of the Bengals defense and will likely have a job with the team as long as he's willing and able.