Bagshot, England — Calvin Johnson participated in the portion of practice open to the media Thursday at the field at the Pennyhill Park Hotel, the Lions' temporary headquarters outside of London.
Although Johnson wasn't doing as much as other Lions receivers, he did run some routes and showed an ability to cut on his injured right ankle that's kept him out of the past two games.
On Wednesday, Johnson wasn't on the field during the media portion but did participate on a limited basis, saying he ran and moved laterally.
"We haven't pushed it too much," he said Thursday. "We don't want to push it to that point where we get a setback. Like I said, it's getting better and better."
Before Thursday's practice, coach Jim Caldwell said he was encouraged by Johnson's progress from a high-ankle sprain that's bothered him since Week 3, but the team has given no indication on his availability for Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons.
"When they ramp up their activity that way, the most important thing is what they feel like the following day," Caldwell said. "And today he came back feeling good, so that's encouraging."
Defensive end Ziggy Ansah (toe) returned to practice after sitting Wednesday, but he was limited like Johnson. Running back Reggie Bush (ankle) sat after participating the day before, but fellow back Theo Riddick (hamstring) was a full participant.
Tight ends Brandon Pettigrew (foot), Joseph Fauria (ankle) and Eric Ebron (hamstring) were all out for the second straight day. Right tackle LaAdrian Waddle (concussion) continued to sit, too.
As for Johnson, he said a decision on his return could wait until right before Sunday's game at Wembley Stadium in London. The Lions won the last two games without him, and even though adding him would help improve the offense, sitting him would give him two more weeks, including an idle Week 9, to recover.
"It's a fine line, you know?" Johnson said. "You could go out there and tweak it again, and then you're almost back where you were. Or, you could try to rest it and let that thing get all the way right. That's exactly where we're at right now and trying to figure out."
Johnson's desire to play is heightened a bit as the Lions face his hometown team. There could also be external pressure for Johnson — one of the NFL's biggest stars — to play in front of an international audience, but Caldwell said the only people who will determine his availability are team doctors.
"Right now it's getting better on a daily basis," Johnson said. "As long as we keep up with that progression, we'll see."