Football Secondary

Football Secondary

The secondary in football is a group of defensive backs on defense:

Football Secondary

The secondary is positioned in the defensive backfield or at the line of scrimmage at the start of every down.

The secondary is responsible for:

Defensive Back

A defensive back is another name for a player in the secondary. Defensive backs can refer to cornerbacks, linebackers, free safeties, or strong safeties.

There are special names for defenses that require extra defensive backs: five DBs is a "nickel" scheme, while a "dime" defense adds a sixth defensive back. These extra defenders are known as the nickelback and dimeback, respectively.

Football Defensive Back

Defensive Backfield

The defensive backfield is the area on the football field behind the line of scrimmage. The defensive backs of the secondary are located in the defensive backfield.Football Defensive Backfield


The cornerback is a defensive back who protects against the pass and counters wide receivers on the offense. Cornerbacks must follow receivers that run routes on the field to prevent a pass from being caught.Football Cornerbacks


The linebacker is a versatile defensive back that can protect against the pass, blitz the quarterback, or tackle the ball carrier depending on the play.

Football Linebackers

Strong Safety

The strong safety is a defensive back that stands on the strong side of the field opposite the tight end. A strong safety will protect against the pass.

Football Strong Safety

Free Safety

The free safety is a defensive back that stands on the weak side of the field opposite the strong safety. This player is usually the last line of defense. A free safety will protect against the pass.

Strong Safety vs. Free Safety

The difference between a strong safety and free safety is:

  • strong side or weak side
  • size and physique
  • speed
Football Free Safety

Football Strong Side

The strong side of the field is the side that the tight end lines up on. It's used for play design in football. The strong safety stands on the strong side of the field.

Football Strong Side