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Detroit Lions cut gunner who stepped on goal line

ALLEN PARK — They say it’s a game of inches. Just ask Dee Virgin.

Virgin nearly downed Sam Martin’s first punt against Dallas inside the 1-yard line, but his left foot crossed the goal line by about a toenail. And two days later, he finds himself unemployed.

The Lions announced Tuesday they’ve cut Virgin. They did not announce a corresponding move.  

Virgin camped with Houston this year, but was let go at the 53-man deadline. The Lions scooped him up off waivers and immediately started him as a gunner. But that coverage team has had all kinds of problems this year.

They’re allowing 30.2 yards per punt return, which is nearly double every other team in the league. They’re netting just 33.8 yards of field position, which is worst in the league too.

Last year, they were 24th despite playing six games without Martin. The year before that, they were third.

It has been a spectacular fall for Detroit’s coverage teams this season. Another gunner, Bradley Marquez, was so bad that he was cut after just one game. And now Virgin has joined him just two days after he failed to keep the ball out of the end zone against Dallas.

Martin plopped his first attempt inside the 5-yard line, and the ball bounced high into the air. Virgin ran under it and caught the ball while straddling the 1-yard line, but then took an additional step toward the goal line and his left foot crossed the plane, triggering a touchback.

And because the Lions had decided to punt from Dallas’ 40-yard line, they picked up just 20 yards of field position because of it.

Virgin could have been let go for a lot of reasons, but that miscue certainly didn’t help.

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