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Broncos' Matt Prater will be suspended four games

The Denver Broncos opened last season without the services of Pro Bowl pass rusher Von Miller. This time around, they'll do it without their Pro Bowl kicker.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport was told Sunday that Matt Prater will be suspended four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy, according to the player's attorney, Harvey Steinberg. The violation was alcohol related.

In his eighth season, Prater had been a member of the NFL's alcohol program since soon after he was charged with DUI in August 2011.

"I've made some mistakes," Prater told The Denver Post of his suspension, which is expected to be announced Monday. "I'm accepting full responsibility. I'll learn from it and come back a better person. I want to apologize to my teammates, my coaches, the Broncos' organization and the fans."

Steinberg told Rapoport that the ban was part of an agreement reached between the league and Prater's camp after the NFL initially threatened a full-season punishment. "The NFL treated us fairly because we were looking at a year," said Steinberg, who revealed that Prater drank alcohol in his home during vacation, triggering a positive test.

"No one feels worse about this than Matt Prater," Steinberg told The Post. "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."

The league office offered no comment when Around The League reached out for further details on Prater's suspension.

Prater's absence puts the Broncos in a tight spot. He is among the game's finest kickers, hitting on 25 of 26 attempts last season and topping the league with a 96.2 field-goal percentage. He also set a new NFL record with his 64-yarder against the Tennessee Titans in December.

Barring the addition of veteran help, it falls on undrafted rookie Mitch Ewald to hold down the fort until Prater returns in Week 5 against the Arizona Cardinals.

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