Football NFL Team Roster

Football NFL Team Roster

How Many Players Are On An NFL Team?

Each NFL team consists of a 48-player game-day roster; however, each team carries up to 55 players on their roster, with 53 players on the active roster. This means that up to seven players are on the roster but do not dress for the game on that particular week. During an individual play, 22 players will be on the field at each time: 11 for the offense and 11 for the defense.

Player Positions

There are many roster combinations that teams may use during the game. On offense, teams will typically have at least five offensive linemen at any individual time and one quarterback. Depending on the situation, the team will include different combinations of tight ends, running backs, and wide receivers. For example, in a 3rd and long situation, a team may elect to use five receivers and no running backs in what is called an empty backfield.

The team on defense will often have a combination of defensive linemen, linebackers, and members of its secondary (safeties, cornerbacks). The defense will often match up with the way that the offense lines up on the field. The combination changes based on different types of defenses that are run. For example, a 4-3 defense consists of four defensive linemen and three linebackers and is a good response to a strong offensive line.

Outline of an NFL Roster

Typically, NFL teams keep at least two quarterbacks, four running backs, three tight ends, six wide receivers, and nine offensive linemen active on the offensive roster. On defense, the typical makeup of players is at least nine defensive linemen, seven linebackers, and ten defensive backs. This can change based on a team's strengths and weaknesses as they may add to positions of weakness while subtracting from positions of strength.

Injured Reserve

The injured reserve (IR) is a list of players that cannot play due to injury. There are no limits to how many players there can be on the injured reserve list. However, there is a limit of how many players can return from the IR. The NFL allows for eight players to return from the injured reserve per season.

Practice Squad

The practice squad is a group of players that are not on the active roster. They practice with a specific NFL team but are available to sign with any team in the league. The practice squad has up to 16 players. However, there are some restrictions regarding what players can be on the practice squad based on experience. The practice squad requirements are as follows:

  • All players with fewer than nine NFL games played are eligible for the practice squad.
  • Up to ten players with two or fewer seasons in the NFL are eligible for the practice squad.
  • Up to six players with more than two years of NFL experience are eligible for the practice squad.


How many players are on an NFL team roster?

Every NFL team carries up to 53 players on their active roster. There will be two from the practice squad, making 55. This represents all of the players that can play during a given NFL season or postseason. There is also a game-day roster made up of 48 players who will actually play in a specific individual game. This means that up to five players will be on the active roster but will not dress for that week’s specific game.

How many players are on the field in an NFL game?

At any time, there will be 22 players on the field during an NFL game. This means 11 offensive players and 11 defensive players. This leaves 37 players on each team’s bench that may be substituted in for one of their teammates due to injury or based on what the coach decides is best. Players are typically ranked into numbered strings based on what order in which the coach would substitute them into the game.

What is a practice squad in the NFL?

In the NFL, a practice squad is a group of players who are not on any team’s active roster. Though the members of a practice squad practice with a specific NFL team, they are all available to sign with any team within the league. There are restrictions on who can be part of a practice squad based on their past experience playing in official NFL games.