American Football - A Quick Guide to Positions in American Football

Football is one of the great American pastimes, but can be a little complicated. There is no other sport that has as many positions or stratagem. This article's purpose is to give a brief explanation of the different positions in American football and what their responsibilities are.

Offensive Teams


The quarterback is the offensive leader. It is his job to call the plays, and execute them. He stands behind and is protected from the opposing team by the offensive line. The Quarterback receives the ball and can either pass it by throwing, pitching, or handing off. The quarterback can also seize the opportunity to run the ball himself if the play or the situation calls for it. Due to the nature of the position, it is a leadership role that gets a lot of attention in the media.

American Football - A Quick Guide to Positions in American Football

Offensive Linemen:
The main group of players that block for the quarterback are called offensive linemen. They compose of differing responsibilities referred to as the center, offensive guard, and offensive tackle.

The center is in the center of the offensive line. He is in charge of hiking the ball back to the quarterback and protecting the quarterback along with the offensive line from the opposing team's defense.

Offensive Guard:
In a typical offense there are two offensive guards that position themselves on both ends of the center. There responsibility is to block the opposing team's defense from getting through. They also help open a running route for the running back.

Offensive Tackle:
The players that are on the outside or outer ends of the offensive line are called the offensive tackles. It is there job along with the other offensive linemen to block the opposing team from sacking (tackling) the quarterback, and open up areas for the running back to get through.

The receivers' main objective is to receive the ball on a passing play. They are also used as blockers on a running play. The different names for their positioning on the field are the tight end, and two wide receivers otherwise known as the flanker, and the split end. There positioning is listed below, each one has the same responsibility but are in different places on the field.

The tight end lines up at the end of the offensive line
The flanker lines up on the same side as the tight end but split from the formation
The split end lines up on the opposite side as the tight end and also is split from the formation

Full Back:
The fullback is behind the quarter back and this players job is to block for the halfback

Half Back:
The halfback also is behind the quarter back an performs most of the running plays. This player can also catch short passes when necessary.

Defensive Teams

Defensive Ends:
The defensive ends are positioned on the ends on the center group of the defending teams line of scrimmage. Their responsibility is to break through the offensive line in order to tackle the quarter back when he is planning to pass, or tackle the running back if it is passed to him.

Defensive Tackles:
The defensive tackles perform the same duties as the defensive ends. They are located on the inside of the usual four man line up for the defense.

Line Backers:
The line backers responsibility is just like their name "back the line". They are responsible for any running back that gets pas the defensive ends or tackles. They also cover short passes made over that defensive line

Corner Backs:
Corner backs cover the wide receivers on long passes. There responsibility is to try to prevent the long plays, tackle passes completed and even try for an interception.

The last defense for a running back is a safety. Their job is to cover any longer passes that the cornerbacks are not covering and also to tackle and running backs that get through the line backers. They have more of a observational role making sure that holes are filled and that the offense doesn't make any big plays.

Special Teams

Special teams deal with punts, field goals, and receiving or kicking the ball at the start of the game, after halftime, or any touchdowns.

Catch the kickoff and try to get as far down the field as possible

Block the defense for the returner and try to open up room on the field for them to get through

Hold the ball during a field goal

Place Kicker:
Kicks the ball from a place holder in a kick off

Drop kicks the ball in a punt play to get the defending team away from their inzone.

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