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Football: Linebacker

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linebackers setting the defense


Linebackers play in the middle of the defense between the defensive line and the secondary. They must do a little bit of everything from stopping the run to pass coverage to rushing the passer.

Skills Needed Positions

The linebacker positions depend on the type of defensive formation the team is running. The two main defenses that teams run today are the 3-4 defense and the 4-3 defense.

4-3 Defense

The 4-3 defense has four defensive linemen and three linebackers. The three linebacker positions in the 4-3 are: 3-4 Defense

The 3-4 defense has three defensive linemen and four linebackers. The linebacker positions in the 3-4 are: Gap Responsibility

The linebackers work with the defensive line on gap responsibility. The space between each offensive lineman is called a gap. Between the center and the guards are the A gaps and between the guards and the tackles are the B gaps. The linebackers are to fill in the gaps. As the running backs try to get through gaps in the defensive line created by the blockers, the linebackers fill in the gaps and make the tackle.

Defending the Run

The linebackers are the main tacklers and run defenders on the team. The defensive linemen take on the blockers and keep the linebackers free to move and tackle the running backs.

Defending the Pass

On pass plays the responsibilities of the linebackers can vary. On many plays they will be in pass coverage where they cover a tight end or a running back out of the backfield. They also may have zone coverage for their area of the field. On other plays they will blitz and rush the passer.

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