The Facts: 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.
Diehards Line: 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. It's unclear how the Broncos will replace Prater. The team's backup kicker, Mitch Ewald, is a rookie from Indiana University. Ewald has been getting his share of field-goal attempts during training camp and converted all four of his 33-yard extra points during the Broncos' first two preseason wins against the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. Then again, the Broncos may also consider an NFL kicker with regular-season experience. Prater's suspension covers five weeks of the 17-week season because of a Week 4 bye.