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Lions punter Sam Martin returning to practice

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The Detroit Lions announced their starting punter will begin to practice shortly.

NFL: Detroit Lions-Minicamp Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions announced on Tuesday morning that Sam Martin will return to practice. Martin was placed on the reserve Non-Football Injury (NFI) list after suffering an off-the-field ankle injury just before the beginning of training camp.

Though Martin is returning to practice, he still currently remains on the NFI list for now. The Lions have three week window to decide whether they want to add Martin to the active 53-man roster. If they choose not to activate him, he will revert back to injured reserve.

That seems unlikely, however, as Martin’s injury did not seem that serious from the get go. Originally, head coach Jim Caldwell said he expected Martin to return sometime during training camp. Obviously that didn’t happen, but that’s a good sign that Martin could be ready to go for Detroit’s next game: Week 8 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Lions could definitely use Martin back in the lineup. In his four-year career in Detroit, Martin has averaged 46.9 yards per punt with a net average of 43.0.

Jeff Locke, Martin’s temporary replacement (after a short stint with Kasey Redfern), has averaged 45.3 yards per punt with just a net average of 40.7. While that may not seem like a huge difference, it is. Consider that Martin’s career average of 46.9 ranks him fourth all-time in the NFL.

In addition to Martin, left tackle Taylor Decker is also eligible to return to practice this week. However, the team has yet to make any announcement regarding his progress.