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Bengals need to lessen load on Domata Peko

Domata Peko's snap count needs to decrease as the veteran tackle is now on the wrong side of 30-years-old.

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Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals believe in Domata Peko, and that's evident to see from the amount of playing time he has received throughout his career.

Most 1-technique tackles in a 4-3 defense don't play more than 60-65 percent of their team's defensive snaps. They often weigh in the 330+ range and don't have the conditioning to play 40+ snaps at a high level. That's not the case with Peko, who plays an abnormal amount of snaps for a 6'3", 330-pound interior lineman.

Pro Football Focus did a study of 1-technique tackles, and Peko played the most snaps in 2014 of any 1-tech:

Peko played in 747 defensive snaps last year, an average of 44 snaps per game, though an elbow injury in Week 13 limited him to 13 snaps vs. Tampa Bay. He ended the year with 14 games of 38 or more snaps.

That may help explain his putrid -22.7 PFF grade in 2014 after getting a -22.9 grade in 2013. Perhaps if the Bengals found another tackle to give Peko some brief rests, it would make him more efficient with the snaps he got.

That's exactly what Pat Sims did in 2011 and 2012. Sims' presence helped limit Peko to 699 and 715 snaps respectively those two seasons. Peko finished with a -10.2 grade in 2011 and a -14 grade in 2012. While not great, those are two of the higher marks Peko has received in his career.

Once Sims left to sign with the Oakland Raiders in 2013, Peko's PFF score dropped into the -20s. Without Sims, Brandon Thompson and Devon Still have been unable to give Peko and Geno Atkins much, if any, relief.

Whether it's Sims or another tackle, someone needs to step up and keep Peko from having to play so many snaps going forward, especially with him turning 31 in November. Because he's been a full-time starter for essentially his entire career since joining the NFL in 2006, you would think Peko's wear and tear will start catching up with him sooner rather than later.