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(In this photo taken Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014, Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater (5) boots the ball during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Houston Texans in Denver. Prater is facing a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy, according to the Denver Post. The Broncos declined to comment on the report, and neither Prater nor his lawyer, Harvey Steinberg, replied to text messages from The Associated Press) early Sunday morning. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
NFL Notes: League’s top kicker Prater apologizes for substance violation
NFL notes » Prater suspended for violating substance abuse policy.
First Published Aug 25 2014 09:55 pm • Last Updated Aug 25 2014 11:14 pm

Broncos • A contrite Matt Prater apologized to the Denver team and their fans for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy by drinking beer, resulting in a four-game ban to start the season.

Prater, the league’s top kicker, has been in the NFL’s drug program, which includes alcohol, since a DUI arrest on Aug. 12, 2011. He said he realized one more strike meant he’d face sitting out an entire season when he decided to have some beers "right after the season."

At a glance

NFL preseason schedule


» Detroit at Buffalo, 5 p.m.

» Indianapolis at Cincinnati, 5 p.m.

» N.Y. Jets at Philadelphia, 5 p.m.

» St. Louis at Miami,5 p.m.

» K.C. at Green Bay,5 p.m.

» Carolina at Pittsburgh, 5:30 p.m.

» New England at N.Y. Giants, 5:30 p.m.

» Washington at Tampa Bay, 5:30 p.m.

» Baltimore at New Atlanta at Jacksonville, 4 p.m.

» Baltimore at New Orleans, 6 p.m.

» Chicago at Cleveland, 6 p.m.

» San Francisco at Houston 6 p.m.

» Minnesota at Tennessee, 6 p.m.

» Denver at Dallas, 6 p.m.

» Arizona at San Diego, 8 p.m.

» Seattle at Oakland, 8 p.m.

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"Why did I risk it?" Prater said. "I made a mistake. I don’t have an excuse for it. I screwed up and now I’m paying the price for it."

The suspension will cost Prater $705,882 in base salary and forces the Broncos to go with Plan B until their Oct. 12 game against the Jets. He’ll miss games against Indianapolis, Kansas City, Seattle and Arizona.

The Broncos’ options include keeping rookie Mitch Ewald or another young, cheap kicker, or signing an experienced one, although a vested veteran’s 2014 salary would be fully guaranteed.

"At the end of the day, there’s an opening there," said Ewald, a rookie from Indiana. "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."

Around the league

Bears • The Chicago Bears now know Jimmy Clausen is their backup quarterback, and they’d like to know their defense can handle mobile quarterbacks. Clausen’s better experience at a younger age and his play in preseason have earned him the backup spot behind Jay Cutler. He last played in 2010, but had a great deal more experience than his competition, Jordan Palmer.

Now coach Marc Trestman hopes to see his defense contain Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer when they play at Cleveland on Thursday after struggling to hold Jacksonville’s and Seattle’s quarterbacks in the pocket the past two preseason games.

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Buccaneers • Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford has undergone an undisclosed "medical procedure" and will be out for an indefinite amount of time. Coach Lovie Smith did not reveal the exact nature of the surgery performed before practice Monday. He said the former University of California coach was "resting comfortably" and likely be out "a short period of time."

Jets • New York has "indefinitely" suspended cornerback Dimitri Patterson after he left the team for 48 hours without contacting the organization. General manager John Idzik said Monday that Patterson spoke to him and coach Rex Ryan on Sunday night. Idzik would not discuss the reason for the absence.

Idzik adds that the suspension will be "brief," but the 31-year-old veteran will face further discipline once the team has gathered all the facts. Patterson wasn’t on the practice field Monday. Patterson was with the team last Thursday night at a walkthrough practice at Hofstra University. Idzik said he was also at meetings, a walkthrough and the pregame meal Friday, but didn’t show for the game at MetLife Stadium that night.

Cardinals • Kicker Jay Feely is gone after four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. Feely, quarterback Ryan Lindley and tackle Max Starks were among 13 players released by the Cardinals on Monday.

Coach Bruce Arians said kickoff ability was the reason he chose rookie Chandler Catanzaro to replace the 38-year-old Feely.

Vikings • Coach Mike Zimmer has named veteran Matt Cassel as the team’s starting quarterback for the season opener against the St. Louis Rams. Cassel beat out rookie Teddy Bridgewater for the starting role.

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