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Football Positions Guide

What are the player positions in football? Here is a complete list of the positions in American football.

Football Positions List

Here is a list of all positions in American football:

The Offense

A team is said to be on the offense when it is in possession of the ball. When on offense, the team will be divided into the offensive line, offensive backs, and receivers.

The Offensive Line

The offensive line consists of five players, including the center, left guard, right guard, left tackle, and right tackle.

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The Center

The center, as denoted by the name, is located in the middle of the offensive line. The role of the center is to snap the ball backward through his legs to the quarterback at the start of every down.

The Left and Right Guards

On either side of the center are the left and right guards, who, along with the center, are responsible for forming an impenetrable line to prevent the defensive linemen from reaching the quarterback. They also work to open up the defense for the running backs to travel through. However, it is illegal for the guards themselves to deliberately receive forward passes, as they are neither running backs or receivers.

The Left and Right Tackles

Situated on the outer sides of the guards are the left and right tackles. They work to block the defensive linebackers from crossing the line of scrimmage. Most importantly, the tackles are responsible for keeping members of the defense from approaching whichever offensive player in possession of the ball at all times during the play.

The Backs

The offensive backs are made up of the quarterback and two running backs.

The Quarterback

The performance of the quarterback is critical to the success of the team, as it is the quarterback who will call the plays, or decides the offensive strategy, during the team huddle. Upon receiving the ball from the center, the quarterback will then pass the ball to either the running back (in the case of a running play) or an open receiver (in the case of a passing play). However, in complex plays like the option run and the quarterback sneak, the quarterback can, in fact, run towards the defense with the ball himself.

The Running Back

Broadly, the running back is responsible for receiving the ball from the quarterback and traveling as far as possible towards the end zone with it. Depending on the offensive play, the running back may be classified as either a halfback or a fullback. A halfback is primarily responsible for carrying the ball throughout the majority of the play and consequently tends to be the most widely recognized member of the team. A fullback, on the other hand, is mainly responsible for blocking the defense and clearing a path for the halfback to travel through, acting like an offensive lineman.

The Receivers

The offensive receivers are made up of two wide receivers and one tight end.

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The Wide Receivers

The wide receivers, who start the play on the outermost edges of the offensive line next to the guards, must run as quickly as possible down the field, while avoiding members of the defense, in order to properly position themselves to catch the ball thrown by the quarterback and run downfield to try and get into the end zone to score points.

The Tight End Receiver

The tight end receiver, who starts the play behind the offensive line, will be responsible for either blocking the defense from reaching the quarterback, or for acting as a third receiver, depending on the offensive play that the quarterback decides upon.

The Defense

A team is said to be on the defense when it is not in possession of the ball. When on the defense, the team will be divided into the defensive line and the secondary unit.

The Defensive Line

The defensive line is made up of one nose tackle, one left tackle, one right tackle, and two defensive ends.

The Nose Tackle

Positioned at the middle of the line of scrimmage, across from the offensive center, is the nose tackle, whose responsibility is to penetrate the line formed by the offensive center and guards to tackle the quarterback before he passes the ball.

The Left and Right Tackles

The left and right tackles, situated on either side of the nose tackle, will aid the nose tackle in breaking through the offensive line.

The Defensive Ends

On the outside of the left and right tackles are the defensive ends, who are responsible for either rushing towards and disrupting the quarterback, or for shuttling the offensive running back towards the middle of the field to the linebackers, in an attempt to stop his run.

The Secondary Unit

The secondary unit consists of cornerbacks, linebackers, free safeties, and strong safeties.

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The Cornerbacks

The cornerbacks, located on the outermost edges of the defensive line, work to block the wide receivers from catching the ball. Their main role is to hinder offensive plays and attempt to create defensive turnovers through a variety of methods, such as intercepting passes and tackling the offense.

The Linebackers

Just behind the defensive line are the two linebackers. Often the strongest and largest players on the team, the linebackers ensure that members of the offense, typically the running backs, do not travel further down the field toward the end zone. They also work to disrupt any offensive passes in their territory.

The Safeties

Behind the linebackers are the free safety and strong safeties. It is their job to block any members of the offense that have gotten past the linebackers from receiving the ball or traveling further down towards the end zone.

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