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Punter Sam Martin returns to practice

The Detroit Lions had 12 players sit out Tuesday's bonus practice before guys scatter around the country for the bye week, but one player of note who was taking part in the practice session was punter Sam Martin.

Martin returned to practice Tuesday after sitting out the first six games of the season while on the non-football injury list. He injured an ankle away from Detroit's Allen Park practice facility in early July.

View photos from the Detroit Lions practice on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017.

The Lions have three weeks to evaluate Martin before deciding whether they want to activate him to the 53-man roster or not.

Martin, the NFC alternate for the Pro Bowl last year, finished last season with a 44.2 net punting average as he re-set the Lions record for net punting average in a season, passing the 42.0 average he established the year prior in 2015. He's finished with a 44.0-plus net punting average in four consecutive seasons.

His 44.2 net punting average last season was the third-best single-season total in NFL history.

Martin also set a career single-season high with a gross punting average of 48.5, which ranks as the second-best single-season tally by a Lions punter in team history.

With Martin punting and kicking off last year, the Lions yielded a total of just 704 return yards (210 on punts and 494 on kickoffs), which was the lowest total kick return yards allowed by the team since at least 1941.

Veteran Jeff Locke has filled in admirably while Martin's rehabbed the first month and a half of the season. Locke's 42.2 net punting average is ninth-best in the NFL. His 45.3 gross average is 19th.

Martin is eligible to play in Detroit's Week 8 matchup vs. Pittsburgh at Ford Field on Oct. 29th if he's activated to the roster by then.

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