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Video:What are Football Defensive Positions?

with Andy Miley

The defensive line is critical to a successful football team. Learn the specific roles for each football player on the defensive line to get a better understanding of the game.See Transcript

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Transcript:What are Football Defensive Positions?

Hi, I'm Andy Miley for About.com. If you watch sporting events you might notice that the crowd usually goes wild when a team scores. Everyone likes to watch the offense, however, defensive is equally important often without the same excitement.  Each member of the defense has a role to fill, let's go over the roles of a football team in more detail.

A Football Team's Defensive Line is Assigned Specific Roles

Starting with the defensive line you have three key positions.  Defensive ends, defensive tackles, and the nose guards.  The line men's basic role is to take up space in front of the offensive line blocking the chances of the ball carrier to move forward. By congesting up the line of scrimmage the line men enable the other members of their defensive team to tackle the ball carrier.  Defensive ends are usually the quickest players on the defensive line while the defensive tackles and nose guard are big stout players who are hard to move. 

Defensive Linemen Block the Rush and Stop the Pass

All defensive linemen are working to stop the forward movement of the offense while trying to get to the QB before he passes the ball. If they tackle him before the QB releases of the ball, it is called a sack. The next line of defense are the linebackers. They are typically positioned 2 yards behind the line of scrimmage.  A LBs job is to move to where the ball is going.  Middle/inside linebackers spend the most of their time defending against the run. On occasion they are responsible for watching specific players that run passing routes.  Outside linebackers also are used to stop the run but will cover often players running passing routes, but depending on the defense style, may also rush the QB like a DL. Strong linebackers usually make or break the defense.

Defensive Backs Block the Receivers

 Finally, The defensive backs first job is to defend against anyone that is running a passing route.  The DBs that lineup straight across from the WRs are called cornerbacks.  These are usually the fastest players on the team.  They typically have to run backwards for at least 10-20 yards.  The other kind of defensive backs are called safeties (strong and free).  Strong safeties usually help more in run support and free safeties stay in the middle of the field to defend against long passes and runs. All DBs are expected to help if a running play gets past the line of scrimmage.

Although each position has a specific role, a good defense will work collectively as a team limiting the forward movement of the offense. To learn more, check us out on the web at About.com
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