Mike Klis of the Denver Post is reporting that kicker Matt Prater is going to be suspended by the NFL for four games due to a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. This comes in relation to a DUI that Prater suffered in 2011 and since then he has been put in the NFL’s alcohol program. Prater was caught with alcohol in his system possibly a few weeks back and the NFL threatened to suspend him the entire year, but opted to suspend him four games.
Prater has been by far the best kicker in the NFL, having gone 25-26 last year (96%) and also breaking the record for the longest kick in NFL history at 64 yards in a game against the Titans last December. Prater also led the league by far in touchbacks with 81 and scored 150 points alone.
Rookie kicker Mitch Ewald will take the mantle as the Broncos starting kicker in response to this news in what seems to be a devastating blow. Ewald is a good kicker and all, but going from the league’s best kicker to a rookie is a huge step. The Broncos face the Colts, Chiefs, Seahawks, and Cardinals in the games which Prater will be suspended, those are crucial games as well for the Broncos as games can be won and lost by the kicker.
There is more than likely information that has yet to be revealed with the Prater suspension, but it is a devastating blow to the Broncos special teams and squad in general. The Broncos better be able to win these games by four points or more because a rookie kicking with the game on the line is not a situation the Broncos want to be in.
Prater is to come back in week six at New York against the Jets due to the Broncos having a bye-week in week four.