JUST IN: Lions activate punter Sam Martin

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Prior to their Sunday Night Football showdown at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Detroit Lions will get a returning starter on special teams back.

After it was reported earlier this week that punter Sam Martin would return, the team has officially announced his activation from the non-football injury list.

Martin had been on the NFI list since the beginning of the year due to an ankle injury he suffered during the summer. The anticipated move comes later in the week after the team formally announced that they were parting ways with veteran Jeff Locke.

The 28-year-old Locke filled in very admirably for the Lions in the five games he played, amassing a new career-high in average punt yardage distance. Locke was signed after the team’s Week 1 game against the Arizona Cardinals when punter Kasey Redfern was sidelined due to injury. If anything, he surely put himself in line to be signed by another team in a similar emergency situation, much like the one that earned him a brief gig with the Lions.

But Detroit is sure glad to have their Pro Bowl-caliber punter back. Martin, who signed a contract extension through the 2020 season, set career-highs last season in punt distance.

To make room for Martin, the roster casualty is defensive lineman Jacquies Smith. The former Buccaneers defensive end and Missouri product appeared in just one game with the Lions after being released by Tampa Bay earlier this month.