Football Running Back

Football Running Backs

The running back is a player on the offense who can run with the ball and catch passes thrown by the quarterback. There are three main types of running backs called halfbacks, tailback, and fullbacks. The differences between running backs is based on their role on the football field, size and strength, and position on the football field.


Football Halfbacks

A halfback is a running back that is positioned close to the quarterback on running plays. They take the hand off on running plays and are faster and smaller than the fullback. They are the ball carrier for most plays. Many people would argue that the halfback is one of the most important positions for offensive success in a game.


Football Tailback

A tailback is a running back similar to a halfback. Tailbacks are positioned behind the quarterback forming a "T" shape on the field. They are responsible for catching the ball and running the ball. This player must be a very versatile player and willing to fill in where needed for any given play. They will often catch the ball when they are in the backfield.


Football Fullbacks

A fullback is a running back that is positioned close to the half back or tailback at the start of the down. Fullbacks are bigger than normal running backs. The fullback defends the ball carrier from being tackled. Their main role is to protect the halfback. This player must be quick on his feet and very strong to block opponents. They should clear a path for the halfback to get the ball through and down the field.

Passing Plays

On a passing play, the running back will usually try to get open on the field for a pass thrown by the quarterback. The running back may be responsible for blocking on passing plays as well, making sure the quarterback has extra time to throw to one of their receivers. Running backs are very multifaceted players who are often utilized in different ways depending on the play.

Running Plays

On a running play, the running back (halfback or tailback) will get the ball in a hand off from the quarterback. The fullback will protect the ball carrier (halfback or tailback) from being tackled by defensive players. Due to this responsibility, the fullbacks should be very strong and aggressive, as they are literally moving multiple defenders out of the way to create space for their teammates.


What are the different kinds of running backs?

There are three kinds of running backs, all who have slightly different roles. The three different classifications of running backs are halfback, tailback, and fullback. The halfback is primarily responsible for carrying the ball on running plays, and occasionally serves as a blocker or receiver on passing plays. The tailback is usually used as a pass-receiver in the backfield, but will also run the ball and block on occasion. Fullbacks are used a bit differently than the other two kinds of running backs, as they almost exclusively serve as a blocker on running plays. Fullbacks will sometimes run or receive the ball, but it is rare.

Who are some famous NFL running backs?

There have been many well known running backs in NFL history. Some of the most common names brought up when talking about legendary running backs include:

  • Barry Sanders (Detroit Lions)
  • Jim Brown (Cleveland Browns)
  • Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings)
  • Walter Payton (Chicago Bears)
  • Eric Dickerson (St. Louis Rams, Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Raiders, Atlanta Falcons)

How much are NFL running backs paid?

In regard to player salary, running backs get paid various amounts depending on their skill, level of experience in the league, and position played. Rookies will often make less than veteran players, and fullbacks are almost always paid less than halfbacks or tailbacks. For fullbacks, the average salary in the year 2021 was just over $1.4 million. On the other hand, the average tailback or halfback was paid about $1.8 million. While this may not seem like a major difference, the ceiling for yearly salary of each position is where the real difference is on full display. The top five highest paid halfback and tailbacks made an average salary just shy of $9.5 million. Meanwhile, the top five highest paid fullbacks earned an average salary of just over $2.7 million dollars. Clearly, halfbacks and tailbacks have the potential to earn far more than the premier fullbacks in the NFL.