Matt Prater suspended 4 games
DENVER -- Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater will be suspended for the first four games of the regular season for a violation of the NFL's substance-abuse program, multiple team sources confirmed following the team's 18-17 preseason loss to the Houston Texans.
Prater, who has been in the league's program since an August 2011 DUI arrest, acknowledged the suspension to the Broncos and confirmed the four games to The Denver Post on Saturday night before he left Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
The suspension is alcohol-related, according to the newspaper.
Prater was originally facing a year-long suspension, but attorney Harvey Steinberg told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that he got the penalty reduced to four games.
A Broncos spokesman said the team would have no comment on the suspension. Prater and Broncos coach John Fox had a brief discussion in the locker room following the game.
Prater played in Saturday night's game, making a 32-yard field goal and missing a 49-yard attempt.
He has been subject to increased testing in the league's substance-abuse program since he was charged in August 2011 with driving under the influence and leaving the scene of a crash.
At the time, Greenwood Village, Colorado, police said Prater's blood alcohol level was recorded at 0.142, or nearly twice Colorado's .08 limit. Team sources said Saturday that the latest test that prompted the suspension was conducted earlier this offseason.
The team doesn't expect Prater to appeal the suspension.
Prater made 25 of 26 field goal attempts (96.2 percent) last season, including an NFL-record 64-yarder in December against the Tennessee Titans. His career 82.9 percent success rate ranks first in franchise history, and he has made 51 of 54 career attempts in the fourth quarter or overtime.
He also led the league in touchbacks on kickoffs in both 2012 and 2013.
The Broncos will give the waiver wire a close look in the coming days and do have a rookie in training camp, Mitch Ewald. Ewald missed his only attempt Saturday night -- a 36-yarder that he pushed left.
Prater's suspension is for four games, so, because of the Broncos' bye in Week 4, he wouldn't be eligible to return until the Monday before the Broncos face the New York Jets on Oct. 12 at MetLife Field.
Prater would have to be formally reinstated by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
The Broncos also opened last season without one of their starters when linebacker Von Miller was suspended for six games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
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