To understand the NFL game, it’s important to know players’ positions that make up each football roster. Each team starts with  offensive players or defensive players and a few special teams’ players. Below is a brief detail about players’ positions and their roles during the game.

Offensive players

The team which has the possession of the ball is called offense. Offensive players are specialized in attacking and scoring points. The offense normally consists of one quarterback, two to four wide receivers, the running back, tight ends, the fullback, etc.

  • Quarterback – the quarterback is the leader of the team. He is the backbone of the team who actually design the gameplay. The quarterback receives the ball from center and throws it to pass-catchers.
  • Running Backs –the running-back also known as Half-back receive the ball from the quarterback through a handoff and carry it to the crucial first down.
  • Wide Receivers – The Wide Receiver is an essential offensive position that collects quarterback forward passes. A squad often features two wide receivers, who are strong, quick, and have good body control.
  • Fullbacks – The fullback takes a position behind the quarterback. He is in charge of blocking for running backs as well as protecting quarterbacks. The fullback should be powerful and muscular, with the ability to block well in the midfield.
  • Tight Ends –  The tight end is a key position in the offence since he not only serves as a blocker for the offensive line but can also assist as a pass-catcher. The tight ends serve between the wide receivers and the end blocker.
  • Center – At the start of the game, each offence side has one center who snaps the ball between his legs to the quarterback. The center serves in the middle of the field and also assists in runs and pass blocking.
  • Offensive Guards – Each team has two offensive guards, a left and a right guard, who line up on either side of the center. The offensive guards shield the quarterback from the defensive line of the opposing team. They also make it easier for the running back to get open.
  • Offensive Tackles – each team also has two offensive tackles, one playing on the right side and the other plays on the left side of the center. The main duty of the offensive tackle is to block the defensive line and protect the player with the ball against the defenders.  Learn more about the game with our Basics of an NFL game guide.


Defensive players

The team that does not have possession of the ball at the start of the game is called the defense. Stopping the offence from scoring and regaining possession of the ball are the defensive players’ primary objectives. The defensive line, linebackers, and defensive backs are the three types of defensive positions. Few common defensive positions are given below.

  • Defensive Tackles – The defensive line includes defensive tackles, also known as defensive guards. One or two defensive tackles are usually on a team’s roster. These defensive tackles defend against running backs and quarterbacks from the center of the defense line.
  • Defensive Ends – defensive ends are the most important part of the defense line. Normally there are two defensive ends in the squad, who play on either side of the defensive tackles. They not only counter offensive tackles in the opponent’s squad, but also block wide receivers.
  • Linebackers – a linebacker is the second most important part of the defense. A team usually has three to four linebackers, who are responsible for both the run and the pass. Linebackers play behind the defense tackles and defense ends.
  • Cornerbacks – Wide receiver is the major part of an offensive side, and the cornerback is responsible to tackle the wide receiver. A team has two cornerbacks covering wide receivers 1-on-1 on either side. Cornerbacks must be fast and strong in order to keep up with the wide receivers.
  • Free Safety – the free safety is a part of the defense. The player is responsible to tackle the opponent ball carrier. The free safety operates on the weaker side of the field approximately 15 yards behind the defense line, and also assists the cornerbacks in pass coverage.
  • Strong Safety – Just like the free safety, strong safety also plays in the defensive backfield, but he plays on the stronger side of the field. Strong safety contributes more in the defense as compared to free safety. Both strong safety and free safety serves as the last defensive line.

Special Team Players

As the name suggests, the players in the special team are specialized for a particular task. They are called onto the field to perform a special task including kicking, punting, scoring field goals. The special team has the following positions;

  • Kicker – It is the special team’s most crucial player. During a competition, the Kicker has two main responsibilities: kicking off the ball at the start of each half or after a goal is scored, and kicking the ball through the goalposts on field-goal tries.
  • Punters – In football, a punter is a member of the special team who is responsible for punting the ball away when the offence is unable to maintain possession. A punter can take the snapped ball straight from the line of scrimmage and then punt it to the other team.
  • Returners – Punt Returner and Kick-off Returner are the two sorts of returners in American Football. Punt returners are in charge of collecting the punt and ensuring that their team is in a good position to carry the ball. The kick-off returner’s job is to catch the opposing team’s kick-off.
  • Long Snappers – Long snappers are offensive players whose job is to snap the ball to the holder during field goals and to the punter during punts in football. Long snappers must be able to snap the ball further than conventional snappers. In most cases, the long snapper must snap the ball accurately over a distance of 9 to 10 yards.
  • Gunners – The special team also has a player known as the Gunner who is tasked for running downfield and attempting to tackle the offense’s returner. To reach the kick or punt returners and tackle them, gunners must be lightning fast and physically strong.