A list of football positions and descriptions can help to understand the intricacies and nuances of the game. Football pits eleven players on offense and eleven players on defense, each with his own specific task.
- Quarterback. The quarterback is undoubtedly the most important of all football positions on the team. He calls the play in the huddle, reads the defense, calls an audible if necessary, and decides when to snap the ball. After the snap the quarterback either hands the ball off to a running back or decides where to throw the ball.
- Running back. The running back carries the brunt of the offensive work of the different football positions. He carries the ball typically over twenty times per game and tries to find holes in the defense to advance the team down the field. He also goes out for passes and blocks for the quarterback.
- Inside linebacker. The inside backer is in the middle of the action and of all football positions takes the biggest beating, taking on mammoth offensive linemen coming downfield to block. He must have great lateral movement and be able to cover receivers on occasion.
- Offensive line. The offensive line is made up of the five players who work as a unit, providing good protection for the quarterback to have time to find the open receiver and throw the ball. They also drive their opponents off the ball when the offense calls a running play.
- Outside linebacker. The outside linebacker is a pass-rushing specialist and he does whatever it takes to get to the quarterback. He sometimes drops into coverage, so of all football positions, this player is usually an exceptional athlete.
- Nose tackle. This player lines up directly over the center and tries to keep him—and sometimes the guard, too—occupied. If the nose tackle does his job the linebackers can move freely and make tackles.
- Wide receiver. The wide receiver catches passes from the quarterback…ideally for big chunks of yards. Of the different football positions he must have the combination of being fast, graceful, and fearless. He also should be willing to block on running plays, as this downfield blocking will spring running backs for big gains.
- Strong safety. The strong safety has to have many talents. He plays close to the line of scrimmage on some plays to support the run defense. On others, he is one of the lines of defense against a touchdown. Still on others, he covers tight ends and running backs one-on-one.
- Tight end. The tight end has to be big and strong but also fast and agile. He is asked to block big defensive linemen on running plays and at other times he has to find openings in the defense on his pass routes to catch passes.
- Cornerback. The cornerback provides one-on-one, or zone, downfield coverage of the offensive team's wide receivers, trying to break up pass plays and/or intercept the ball in the air. The cornerback, free safety and strong safety positions form what is called the secondary, as this is the team's second, and often final, line of defense.
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