NFL makes Prater suspension official

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater admitted to his four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy on Monday and the NFL made it official on Tuesday.

The league released a statement on Prater’s suspension, which will begin Monday.

“Matt Prater of the Denver Broncos has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2014 regular season for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse. Prater will be eligible to return to the Broncos’ active roster on Monday, October 6 following the team’s October 5 game against the Arizona Cardinals. Prater is eligible to participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games.’’

Prater has practiced with the team since being informed of his suspension just before the Broncos’ 18-17 preseason loss to the Houston Texans Saturday night. He made a 32-yard field goal and missed a 49-yarder.

The Broncos have a Week 4 bye, which is why Prater will not return to the field until the Monday before their Oct. 12 game against the New York Jets. During his suspension, as was the case when Von Miller was suspended for the first six games of the 2013 season for violations of the substance-abuse policy, Prater can attend team functions in the Broncos’ complex and use the team’s training facilities.

But he can do no work on the field, and he cannot attend practice. He will have to kick on his own off premises.

Monday, a contrite Prater took responsibility for his actions, which include multiple violations of the program’s guidelines to get to the suspension phase, including a 2011 DUI arrest.

“I’m really sorry, I’ve made mistakes, hope to regain everyone’s trust, and I’m going to work my tail off to try and win a championship this year,’’ Prater said. “I take full responsibility for what’s happened, I’m accountable for it. It’s no one’s fault by my own, I’m dealing with it, hopefully learn from it, improve as a person and a football player.’’

Prater also said he would no longer drink alcohol for “as long as I’m in this program.’’