With starting defensive tackle Michael Pierce dealing with an ankle injury, the Ravens have signed a pair of veteran linemen tackles to help fortify their depth in the trenches.
On Tuesday, general manager Eric DeCosta added former Cincinnati and Denver defensive tackle Domata Peko and former Oakland defensive tackle Justin Ellis, two veterans with a combined 228 starts in their respective careers. Their arrivals come after Baltimore allowed 157 rushing yards in Sunday’s 49-13 win over Cincinnati and an unimpressive 5.7 yards per carry in the first half.
Described as “day-to-day” by head coach John Harbaugh on Monday, Pierce injured his right ankle on the first defensive play of the game and played only three snaps in Sunday’s victory.
The Ravens are very familiar with the 34-year-old Peko, who spent the first 11 seasons of his NFL career with the Bengals. The 6-foot-3, 325-pound lineman has played in 201 NFL games, collecting 585 tackles, 20 sacks, and 14 passes defensed. Peko had yet to sign with a team this season after his two-year contract with Denver expired in March.
Ellis, 28, is in his sixth season and was released by the Raiders in October after being placed on injured reserve at the end of the preseason. The 6-foot-2, 350-pound defensive tackle started 41 games over his first four seasons, but a foot injury limited him to just six games in 2018. Ellis has recorded 119 tackles, one-half sack, and two passes defensed in 66 career games.
It was apparent the Ravens lacked trust in reserve defensive lineman Zach Sieler on Sunday as he played only 24 defensive snaps while starting defensive tackle Brandon Williams played a season-high 59 in the blowout victory over the Bengals. Defensive end Chris Wormley also played a season-high 47 snaps in Week 10.
In addition to the Peko and Ellis signings, the Ravens activated rookie cornerback Iman Marshall from injured reserve. To make room for these three roster additions, cornerback and punt returner Cyrus Jones and defensive end Ufomba Kamalu were waived and rookie defensive tackle Daylon Mack was placed on IR with knee and hip injuries.
After losing a fumble in the Week 9 win over New England, Jones was benched and replaced in Sunday’s game by newcomer De’Anthony Thomas. It was a quick hook for the Gilman product, who had no other fumbles this season and ranked sixth in the NFL in punt return average. Thomas fumbled twice earlier this season, which contributed to his release from Kansas City last month.
Mack, a fifth-round pick from Texas A&M, had appeared in only one game this season while Kamalu was signed off New England’s practice squad during the bye week and wasn’t active for either of his first two games with the organization.