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Allen Park — Detroit Lions punter Sam Martin returned to practice on Tuesday, the first day he was eligible to return off the non-football injury list.

Martin suffered an ankle injury between the end of mandatory minicamp in June and the start of training camp in late July. The team has repeatedly declined to explain how Martin suffered the injury and have not made the punter available to the media.

Martin is coming off a career year, which he averaged 48.5 yards per punt with a 44.2-yard net average, the third-best mark since the NFL began recording the stat in 1976. He also handles kickoff duties for the Lions.

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Detroit started the season with Kasey Redfern as Martin’s replacement, but Redfern suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 1. The team signed Jeff Locke in Week 2 and he’s maintained a strong 42.2-yard net average the past five games, tied for eighth in the league.

Martin is eligible to be added to the active roster as soon as Detroit’s next game, a Sunday night tilt with the Pittsburgh Steelers in two weeks. The team must make a decision on Martin’s status three weeks from his return to practice.

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

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