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Jim Caldwell: Sam Martin expected to return during camp, Taylor Decker is ‘improving’

Good injury news to kick off camp for the Lions.

Detroit Lions v New York Giants Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

With training camp officially underway in Detroit, Lions head coach Jim Caldwell met with the media on Saturday and gave some important updates on player injuries.

On Tuesday, the Lions announced that punter Sam Martin had been placed on the Non-Football Injury list due to an ankle injury suffered earlier in the month. However, the ailment does not seem to be too serious, as Caldwell said he expects Martin back soon. “We expect him to come back some time during training camp, but we’ll see,” Caldwell said.

Martin, who also serves as the team’s kickoff specialist, is coming off his best season yet. In 2016, he posted career-highs in punt yard average (48.5) and net average (44.2). In fact, Martin currently ranks third all-time in yards per punt over a career with an average of 46.9 yards.

Kasey Redfern, who signed back in April, will be the Lions de facto punter while Martin continues to rehab from his injury. But, for now, it appears Martin will enter the season as the team’s special teams ace.

Watch LIVE as Jim Caldwell meets the media before #LionsCamp

Watch LIVE as Jim Caldwell meets the media before #LionsCamp

Posted by Detroit Lions on Saturday, July 29, 2017

Caldwell also gave an update on left tackle Taylor Decker, who had shoulder surgery during OTAs due to a torn labrum. “He’s coming along, making really good progress. He’s on track. Beyond that, he’s out of his sling, he’s working at it.”

When asked to explain what ‘on track’ meant, Caldwell couldn’t give a timeline for Decker’s return. “I’m not exactly certain when, but we’ll know that as time goes on here. But he’s improving. He’s on time in terms of the rehab, according to his injury and surgery.”

Decker’s injury has left a massive hole at left tackle, but Detroit did their best in trying to fill the position by trading for Greg Robinson and signing free agent Cyrus Kouandjio. While Caldwell wouldn’t say who would replace Decker during camp, he did specifically mention those two as candidates. “Obviously we have a number of guys there—Greg Robinson, we’ve got Kouandjio—we’ve got a number of guys that play that position that we’ll be able to work with.”

If you’re wondering if Joe Dahl will still be in the mix, it sure doesn’t sound like it. “Joe Dahl may not have to go out there as much as he did in the spring,” Caldwell added.

The Lions have several other players that will be entering camp injured. Armonty Bryant, Don Carey, Rolan Milligan, Corey Robinson and Jeremiah Valoaga were all placed on the PUP list earlier in the week, while Kouandjio, Martin and Teez Tabor will start on the NFI list.

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