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American Football: The Defense and Special Teams

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In a rough game where the only goal is to get the ball to the other side, knowing how to play your role in the defense team is a must. Here are the key defense positions:

  1. Defensive End - They position themselves at each end of the defensive line to prevent offensive runs. Their main goal is to tackle the quarterback before he can pass it to any of his team members and prevent the halfback from passing through. Mess with these men and you’ll get broken bones.
  1. Defensive Tackle- These men together with the two defensive ends complete the lineup of the four man defense lineup. They are more popularly known as the nose tacklers as they are can almost touch noses with the offensive team’s center. Their primary role is to stop running plays at the middle of the line of scrimmage.
  1. Linebacker- The number of men that comprise this second line of defense varies according to the team’s defense strategy. The most common is a 4-3 defense which means the defense has one middle linebacker and two outside linebackers. These men are to stop offensive team from advancing. They should tackle the speedy Running and Full Back and the Tight End during short-yardage situations.
  1. Cornerback- These two players must prevent the wide receivers from getting passes from the quarterback. In order to do so, they must swat or catch the airborne ball.
  1. Safety- Considered as the hard hitters, they make up the last line of defense. There are two of them who aid the cornerbacks in pass coverage. The strong safety is generally much stronger and gives added defense against running plays. The free safety on the other hand is smaller and thus faster player who gives the team extra pass coverage.

Finally, although few points can be accomplished with the special teams, it is a great impact on how the offensive team can score. Here are the members of this specially drilled team:

Kick Returner- As their name suggests, they must kick the ball to return to their side of the field. Return kicks can be performed by cornerbacks and wide receivers.

Kicker- He is to kick the ball through the end zone and make a three-point field goal. If the team manages to get a touchdown, getting the ball through the end zone earns his team an extra point.

Holder- He is the backup quarterback who picks up the snap and places the ball at a good kicking position for an easy field goal.

Punter- He catches long snaps and kicks the ball as far back as the defense team’s field as possible.

Long Snapper- He is a specialized center who is an expert at making long snaps so that the holder and the punter can have a clear aim at field goals.

Punt Returner- He catches long snaps and brings it back to the other team’s end zone.

Gunner- This player is often double teamed by blockers as he interferes with the punt returner or kicker.

Upback- He helps defend the punter for a successful team punt. He often makes a great diversion in fake punt situations.

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