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What are the names of all of the positions in American football?

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July 23, 2013 12:13AM

There are 11 positions on both offense and defense in football.

Offense:

Quarterback [QB]

Half-Back/Running Back [HB/RB]

Full Back [FB]

Offensive Tackle (Left) [LT]

Offensive Guard (Left) [LG]

Center [C]

Offensive Guard (Right) [RG]

Offensive Tackle (Right) [RT]

Wide Receiver(s) [WR]

Tight End [TE]

This offense is one basic set. There are multiple offenses in play currently. Some may include as many as 5 wide receivers, 2 tight ends, or 3 running backs. There is almost always just 1 quarterback, 1 center, 2 guards, and 2 tackles. There must be seven players lined up "on the line of scrimmage". Also, while Receivers are officially called "Wide Receivers" they are sometimes played closer to the offensive line and are then reffered to as "Slot Receivers". The rest is open to interpretation.

Defense:

Nose Tackle

Universal Tackle

Left End

Right End

LOLB

MLB

ROLB

Free Safety

Strong Safety

Cornerback 1

Cornerback 2

This defense is correct assuming a 4-3 defensive alignment. There are multiple alignments in the game which affect the number of down lineman, linebackers, and defensive backs. Some examples might include a 5-2 defense, a 3-4 defense, or a 4-4 defense. There may be 2 defensive backs or as many as 5 or 6 in a given alignment. In a prevent type defense there might be 8 defensive backs.

Every offensive team consists of 11 players, unless you're talking about Arena football which has eight players on its offensive unit. But all other levels of football, NFL, College, High School and Pee Wee go with 11 offensive players against 11 defensive players. In some places with small populations(primarily the plains or mountain states) and fewer available players, a game called "eight man football" is played on the high school level.

The quarterback is probably the most notable and recognizable player for the offensive unit. He is the leader of the offense and signals the start of the play. It's the quarterback that receives the snap and then either throws the ball, hands it off to someone to run or keeps it and runs himself. Some quarterpacks are purely passers who let their running backs carry the ball and some, Michael Vick for example, are equally adept at running. Plays called in the huddle can be changed by the quarterback at the line of scrimmage if he notices that the defense has changed its formation from the one anticipated when the original play was called by calling what is known as an "audible". Peyton (and Eli) Manning is(are) particularly adept at calling audibles.

In a traditional set, the quarterback will be joined by a fullback, halfback, tight end and two wide receivers to make up the "skill position" players. Skill position players are the ones who usually handle the football from the quarterback either by running with the ball or catching it. Some running backs can also pass the ball in "trick plays" designed to fool the defense into concentrating on the running back and leaving a receiver(s)& in very rare instances the quarterback, uncovered. In yet another rare case, tackles can also become receivers in offensive formations (tackle eligible)where the tackle actually lines up as a receiver.

The fullback is the running back immediately behind the quarterback. His primary duties are to block for the halfback. But lately, with offenses doing more and more and fullbacks making the conversion from big bulky bruisers to athletic-type guys, fullbacks are getting more and more carries and pass receptions. Fullbacks are also used in short yard situations such as third-and-short (1-2 yards)or and fourth-and-inches where power and strength are more advantageous than the halfback's speed or elusiveness.

The halfback is commonly known as the running back and is the primary carrier of the football. Most halfbacks will get 20-plus carries a game while the fullback gets usually no more than five or six. There have, however, been exceptions to that rule. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a fullback by the name of Mike Alstott. When the Bucs lost their halfback one year, Alstott stepped in and became the primary halfback for the team and didn't do a too bad of a job at all. Running back Tom Matte, a college quarterback for Ohio State, also played as an quarterback when the Baltimore (now Indianapolis)Colts QBs Johnny Unitas and Gary Cuozzo were too badly injured to play effectively. Coach Don Shula wrote plays on a wristband for Matte to help him in his transition to his former position. Although the Colts lost the game, The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio has the wristband from that game on display.

In the 1970 season, Oakland Raiders place kicker, George Blanda, who played quarterback at Kentucky and started his pro career as quarterback, also reverted to quarterback in a similar scenario. The amazing thing about Blanda's position switch was that he was 43 YEARS OLD at the time and he was BOTH the QB & the place-kicker in that season's AFC Championship Game.

The other skilled offensive positions are wide receiver and tight end. Like I said, in most offensive sets, there will be two wide receivers and one tight end. The wide receivers are the guys that catch the ball from the quarterback. They line up away from the rest of the team out to either side near the sidelines. Wide receivers are also called wide outs or flankers and are usually the fastest guys on the offensive unit.

The tight end is a bigger version of the wide receiver. He also runs out to catch passes from the quarterback. But unlike the wide receiver, the tight end is used more as a blocker on run plays. In some situations, teams will put a certain guy in at tight end specifically to block on a running play. And then, they will put in a different tight end when they expect to pass the ball. The tight end always lines up next to one of the tackles on the offensive line.

As far as the offensive line goes, there are five guys who are responsible for blocking for the quarterback or the running back.

The one in the middle is called the center. He's usually the leader of the offensive line and is responsible for any and all changes that need to be made.

The positions to the left and the right of the center are the guards and the positions to the outside of the guards are the tackles. So from left to right, the offensive line positions are left tackle, left guard, center, right guard and right tackle. And once again, the tight end lines up to either side of the tackles.

That just about covers the offensive positions. Defensive positions such as nose guard/tackle, defensive tackle, defensive end, linebacker, cornerback, safety and "nickle back" or rover will be addressed in a subsequent post.