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Football in America goes all the way back to the roots of rugby which has deviated from the original form based in the U.K, and has evolved into an American branded sport with the most notable being the National Football League (NFL). Below is an overview of positions in American Football which varies between high school, college, and the professional level. Also in high school many star athletes will play on both offense and defense where as in the college and professional level this hardly if ever occurs any more. On offense as well as defense each team is allowed to have 11 players on the field at any given time with no cap on the allowance of subs in between offensive and defensive plays.

Special Teams The special teams players take the field when there is one of the following taking place in football: 1. Extra Point Attempts 2. Field Goals 3. Punts 4. Kickoffs 5. Free Kicks(rare) Special teams have the following teams or groups: 1. Field goal blocking 2. Field goal 3. Punt return 4. Punt blocking 5. Punting


6. Kick return 7. Kickoff *Many of the players on special teams are recycled as the play regular 1st to 3rd string positions for their given team. There are specific positions for these special teams and they are: 1. Punter - The guy who well you guessed it receives the pigskin and you guessed it punts the ball down the field. In the NFL you can not tackle the punter after he has released the ball and in many cases the punter is also the kicker outside of the National Football League. 2. Kick Returner - The player who returns kicks whether they are punter or kick offs. 3. Kicker - Places the football on the tee for kickoffs after a score, beginning of the game, or start of a half. Also handles most field goals but in some rare cases may only handle field goals in his range and a replacement or backup kicker may handle longer distances. 4. Holder - Hold the ball for the place kicker and is often a second or third string QB or punter. 5. Punt Returner - Player who runs back punts. 6. Gunner - Player who specializes in "gunning" for the player returning the ball on a punt or kick off return. 7. Hands Team - For onside kicks when they are preconceived has the players in this position prepared to stop the offensive team from recovering the pigskin by attempting to quickly recover the ball themselves. 8. Upback - Player who acts as a 2nd line of protection for the punter and can also play blocking back behind the line of scrimmage for punting and kneeling plays. 9. Wedge Buster - Player who runs down the center of the field for kickoffs and to change the natural direction of the blockers. 10. Long Snapper - Center who snaps the ball to the place holder or the punter. Offensive Positions When the team starts a play from scrimmage in possession of the ball they are considered on Offense. Plays atypically start as the quarterback takes the snap from the center and then either hands off the ball, spikes hit, throws it, runs the ball, takes a knee, fumbles, or gets sacked. The reason why the QB may spike the ball is to stop the clock if time is winding down. The reason for taking a knee is to allow the clock the run with minimal risk of turning the ball over. When the ball is run and the player is not knocked out of bounds or doesn't run the ball outside of the playing field when tackled or taking a knee than this acts as winding the clock down, however if the opposite holds true than the clock is stopped. The offensive squad is there to score points for the team but the defense is able to score points as well. The highest scoring honor is a touchdown which is worth 6 points. A field goal is worth 3 points, and the extra point which is kicked after a touchdown is scored is


worth 1 point. There is also something called a free kick which rarely ever happens but can also score offensive points for the football team. The players on offense are the: (QB) quarterback, linemen, (RB) running backs and backs, (TE) tight ends and (WR) wide receivers and receivers. Linemen are designated to be blockers. The (OL) offensive has a center, two guards, two tackles and one to two TE's. RB's who usually run the ball hence the name can also receive catches, and a fullback, who is used most of the time for blocks, can also carry the ball or receives a thrown pass from the quarterback. Below is an in depth over view of the offensive positions and what the position is intended to do: •

Quarterback (QB) — The Quarterback stands behind the center in order to receive the snap unless a trick play is being run and he will not be the one receiving the snap from the center. The QB will usually play from formations in which the QB takes the snap and than the quarterback hands the ball off to the RB(running back) to run, pass the football, or taking a quarterback draw in which the QB would be running with the football in hand.

Center (C)—This player is usually very large in size and stature and acts as a blocker for all of the lineman & also gets the play started by snapping the ball to the quarterback. A veteran or leading center will be in charge of coordinating and directing the rest of the offensive line. Running back (RB) — This position used to be called the tailback or halfback but is traditionally now known as Running Back. A RB will be responsible for carrying the ball and attempting to go up field for the offense. The back however is not limited to running as they will also receive catches from the quarterback in most cases since they are one of the fastest players on the team. A backs agility and speed make it hard for the defensive players to easily catch and tackle when on the run doing jukes and other offensive moves to avert the defensive players.

Wide receiver (WR) — Wide receivers are the players that the quarterback most often throws to. There job is to catch the football and to run up field in an effort to score a touchdown in almost all cases. They often run routes to lose the defensive counterparts to get open for a pass. Wide receivers are can line up on the line of scrimmage to be one of the 7 players in a legal formation for a split end or 1 step behind the scrimmage line to be counted in the backfield.

Tight end (TE) — Tight ends are located next to the tackles. They share mixed duties similar to a receiver and a blocker. There are usually one tight end and one split end which is when an end moves away from the tackle. Some formations do not have tight ends as they opt to use a wide receiver instead. There are also times when there are 3 tight ends because a blocker is being substituted for a WR which is usually done for short yard situations when the offense wouldn't need receivers.


Fullback (FB) — The full back is located behind the middle of the line and does very little running as well as receiving. Usually a full back is utilized as a blocker by running the planned running route behind the OL opening against the defense.

Offensive guard (OG)—The 2 guards that play on either side of the center and inside the tackles. They are supposed to block for running and passing plays. An offensive guard may also do a running play called a sweep which is when they move behind other OL before the play to block on one side or another of the center.

Offensive tackle (OT)—An Offensive Tackle will play on the outside of each guard. An OT's job is to block passing & running plays. The left tackle is to protect the blind side for a right handed quarterback and so forth the other way around. The movie called the Blind Side featuring Michael Oher of the Baltimore Ravens details information and the importance of the Offensive tackle to the quarterbacks safety.

*The prior details account for the guard and tackle positions apply when a line is balanced meaning it has an equal number of players on both sides of the center. Defensive Positions In American football Defense starts a play from the line of scrimmage when the other team is on offense. The purpose of the defensive set is to not let the offense move the football down field as they attempt to put points on the scoreboard. Defensive teams have the ability to score the ball via interceptions, fumble recoveries, and blocked punts or field goals. The biggest difference between offense and defense when lining up is that the defense has no formality rules. Players are allowed to line up in any location as long as they are behind the line of scrimmage. •

Safety — A safety is the last player in terms of depth as they line up in the farthest of the backfield and act as assistants to cornerbacks for long passes and end up being the tackler when a play breaks out down field. There are two safeties the Strong Safety who is bigger in size in most cases hence the strong connotation The other is the Free Safety who is smaller in stature and helps out on breakouts on passes. One of the best safeties in the National Football League right now is Ed Reed of the Baltimore Ravens as he displays some of the highest qualities of what a safety is supposed to do for a football club.

Linebacker — A Linebacker has multiple jobs such as stopping receivers from retrieving the ball, stopping run plays, and rushing the quarterback. There are typically 2-3 LB's on a defensive set. Those 3 sets are typically called weak side, strong side, middle, left and or right side linebacker. Each linebacker has a typical


duty to defend in different situations whether it to be to stop the rush, pass, or to block. •

Defensive End — There are 2 defensive ends and they both play on the outside of all the other defensive players hence the name defensive end. The DE's job is to go after the passer and or to stop the running backs who break out on the side of the field.

Cornerback — Cornerbacks are usually assigned to stop a QB's attempt to pass by knocking down the ball in the air or intercepting the pass. They also attempt to help stop a runner in a running play situation.

Dimeback & Nickleback — These backs are used to help stop pass plays with extra receivers. There are also rush attempts on QB's thanks to their agility and fast speed over lineman. Cornerbacks can be referred to as nickelbacks to distinguish them from cornerbacks when they are good at blitzes and tackling situations.

Defensive tackle — DT's are side-by-side linemen who setup in between the two defensive ends. There can be up to three Defensive Tackles but sometimes 1-2 are used. Their job is to rush the quarterback when by passing the OL's attempting to block them (see above), & to block running plays coming up the center of the field. You might have heard of a term Nose Tackle - A nose tackle is a DT who sets up directly across from the ball where they are nose hairs away from the offense's center and thus get the name nose tackle or nose guard.

Defensive back — Stands for any position that resides behind the line of scrimmage and can be anything besides the line, including cornerbacks, safeties, and so forth.

Hopefully you enjoyed our explanations and definitions on American Football Positions and if so than we are happy. If you would like free Football Odds, schedules, scores, stats, NFL picks, injuries, and any other in depth information please do not hesitate to check out the rest of Cooper's Sports Picks.

American Football Positions  

Footbal positions in american football

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