Football Team Roster Rules

A football team roster is a running list of all active and inactive players on a team. It is utilized by coaches and officials throughout the entire season. It consists of the player's information, jersey number and any relevant statistical information, like game percentages, weight, height, etc.

Team Roster Size

On an NFL team, there are 53 players on the team roster. However, only 45 players dress on game day. The 11 players on the field for each team are announced prior to the game.

Football players are grouped into three main groups on the roster: offense, defense, and special teams. The offense is attempting to score touchdowns to put their team ahead in the game. The defense is working to stop the other team's offense from scoring. The special teams players take care of any kicks or punts that may occur.

Field of Play

Only 11 players from the active roster can be on the field of play during a scrimmage down. A penalty call, "Too Many Men on the Field" will be called on a team that has more than 11 players on the field.


Football allows unlimited substitutions during a game. Teams can substitute all 11 players on the field for a new set of 11 players when the ball is dead. They also can substitute individual players, too. Any member from the active roster may be substituted in at any point during the game.

Football Substitution

Coaches will bring different players from their offense, defense, or special teams onto the field during different times in a football game if they want to do substitutions.