DENVER - Broncos kicker Matt Prater has been notified by the NFL he will be suspended through the first four games of the season for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
The violation was alcohol-related. Prater has been in the league's alcohol program since soon after he was charged with driving under the influence Aug. 12, 2011.
The four-game suspension, which is expected to be announced Monday, was part of an agreement reached between Prater's attorney, Harvey Steinberg, and the league, so an appeal is not expected. The NFL had initially threatened a one-year suspension.
"No one feels worse about this than Matt Prater," Steinberg said. "He feels terribly for his teammates. It's cost him personally, both professionally and financially. I wonder if we shouldn't take a second look at the policy when only a couple beers were consumed at home while he was on vacation. Having said that, the NFL under the constraints of the policy couldn't have treated us better."
This is potentially a major blow to the Broncos because Prater by nearly any measure is the league's best kicker. He topped the NFL last season with a 96.2 field-goal percentage by making 25-of-26 — including a 64-yarder in a December win against the Tennessee Titans that broke a 43-year league record.