- Jeff Legwold, ESPN Denver Broncos reporter
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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A contrite Matt Prater apologized for his four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy and vowed not "to drink as long as I'm in this program.''
The Denver Broncos kicker will miss the team's first four games of the season and because of the Broncos' Week 4 bye, will not be eligible for reinstatement until the Broncos Week 6 game against the New York Jets.
"I'm definitely going to make some changes in my life,'' Prater said following Monday's practice. "Not drink at all or risk doing anything stupid like that. Keep myself out of certain situations like not go to places where people are drinking. Now I'm going to dedicate myself to working out and getting stronger in the time I have off. I'll come in here and be here five days a week hitting the weights and I'll have to kick at a high school field.''
Prater said he was told of his suspension just before the Broncos faced the Houston Texans on Saturday night in a preseason game. His suspension could have been a year given his progression into the league's program, in part stemming from a 2011 DUI arrest.
The seventh-year veteran said he apologized to his teammates in a meeting Monday. The suspension was officially announced Tuesday.
"I'm really sorry, I've made mistakes, hope to regain everyone's trust back 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 but my own, I'm dealing with it, hopefully learn from it, improve as a person and a football player.''
The league's substance abuse policy allows for players serving suspensions to attend team functions during the week and use the weight room. However, they cannot do work on the field or be on the team's sideline during games.
Monday, Prater said the suspension was a result of a test taken "right after the season,'' and that "I was hoping to just get a fine.'' Prater's suspension will cost him $705,882.35 of his $3 million base salary.
Prater made 25 of 26 field-goal attempts last season (96.2 percent), including an NFL record 64-yarder in December against the Tennessee Titans. His career 82.9 percent success ranks first in franchise history and he's 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 '13.
Mitch Ewald, an undrafted rookie from Indiana, also has been in training camp with the team. Ewald missed his only attempt Saturday night -- a 36-yarder he pushed left.
"At the end of the day, there's an opening there,'' Ewald said Monday. "Is it for me? Who knows? It might be, it might be for somebody else. I've just got to keep working hard and see what happens.''
Prater would have to be formally reinstated by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
A contrite Matt Prater apologized for his four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy and vowed not "to drink as long as I'm in this program.''