Taylor Martinez returns to practice

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez returned to practice on Sunday after a five-week layoff due to a foot injury, but his availability for Saturday as the 24th-ranked Huskers visit Minnesota remains in question.

“I thought he looked good, but we didn’t give him a lot,” coach Bo Pelini said on Monday. “We’ll just see how it goes as the week goes on, how he feels.”

Martinez has missed three games with a turf-toe injury to his left foot. He last played on Sept. 14 in a 41-21 loss to UCLA.

The fifth-year senior, who owns the school’s career total offense record, gave way to redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong Jr. Armstrong played well in wins against South Dakota State and Illinois before struggling on Oct. 12 in the Huskers’ 44-7 win at Purdue.

Senior Ron Kellogg III has also played extensively in the absence of Martinez.

Saturday’s visit to Minnesota (noon ET, ESPN) marks the start of a stretch in which Nebraska (5-1 overall, 2-0 in the Big Ten) will play the Gophers, Northwestern, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State and Iowa.

Senior receiver Kenny Bell said he was excited to see Martinez back in pads on Sunday, saying he was “very optimistic” that the 43-game starter could return this week.

Pelini described the quarterback’s work in practice as “good.”

“Obviously, he’s got some rust in some areas that he’s got to get cleaned up,” the coach said. “It’s going to be getting back footwork-wise and feeling comfortable with the different movements -- and obviously feeling comfortable being able to put his foot in the ground.”

Asked if Armstrong or Kellogg would still factor in Nebraska’s plan this week if Martinez returns, Pelini said it’s too early to make a call.

“Lots of ifs,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes.”