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2019 training camp preview: Special teams

On the roster: Matt Prater, Sam Martin, Ryan Santoso, Don Muhlbach

Key losses: None

Best competition: Who returns kickoffs?

Jamal Agnew was named to the All-Pro team as a punt returner in 2017. Unfortunately, a knee injury limited his 2018 campaign to just six games.

Agnew is likely the favorite entering training camp to resume those punt return duties in 2019, but he’ll have to be sure-handed back there under new special teams coordinator John Bonamego, who values ball security.

As for returning kickoffs, Agnew will probably be in the mix there too, but rookie running back Ty Johnson should get a good look as well. Like Agnew, Johnson is a shifty speedster with a proven record returning kicks. He returned kickoffs for touchdowns against both Michigan and Ohio State last season playing for Maryland.

Second-year wide receiver Brandon Powell, who came on strong last season playing on offense, also got some reps in June’s minicamp returning kickoffs.

Twentyman’s take: This is a solid special teams unit across the board.

It starts with Prater, who is about as money as they come. He connected on 28-of-32 field goals and 30-of-30 extra points to produce 114 points last season. Of kickers who attempted at least 30 extra points last season, he was the only NFC kicker to not miss a single point after attempt.

From Weeks 5-15, Prater connected on 27 consecutive kicks, making 14 straight field goals and 13 straight extra points in that span.

Prater even chipped in a touchdown pass for good measure in Detroit’s 31-0 Week 17 victory over the Packers.

Martin punted 74 times for 3,310 yards (44.7 average) and totaled 2,898 net yards (39.2 net average) in 2018. He pinned 32 punts inside the 20-yard line, which was a personal best and among the league leaders.

Both his average and net yards were down from personal bests set a couple years ago, but part of that was scheme and coverage personnel. Still, this is a big camp for Martin. He’s fully healed from the foot injury that cost him half the 2017 season. He said this offseason he feels back to his old self.

Martin reunites with Bonamego, who helped mold the early part of his career and who could help him return to his 2016 form when he was one of the best punters in the league.

Santoso (6-5, 258) has a big, strong leg, and could push Martin in camp for the punting duties.

Muhlbach is as steady as they come. Week 1 will be his 229th career game played, which is second in franchise history to only Jason Hanson (327).

By the numbers:

1,236: Prater ranks fourth in the NFL in points dating back to 2008. Only Stephen Gostkowski (1,503), Mason Crosby (1,328) and Matt Bryant (1,253) have more.

11.4: Detroit allowed opponents to average 11.4 yards per punt return last season, the second highest average in the NFL behind only Pittsburgh (14.4).

75.4: Prater’s percentage on field goal attempts of 50-plus yards is second in NFL history behind only Robbie Gould (78.4).

32: Martin’s 32 punts inside the 20-yard line last season were third most in team history behind Nick Harris’ 34 in 2005 and John Jett’s 33 in 2000.

Quotable: “I had a really good offseason of preparation coming into here, so I feel good,” Martin told the Detroit Free Press this offseason. “Can always be better, though. In the kicking game you can never be perfect, so I’m just constantly chasing that and just being the best Sam I can be, and that’s kind of where I’m at right now is just every day getting better.”

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