Gunner (American football)

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Matthew Slater for the New England Patriots has been named to nine Pro Bowl teams, primarily for his role as a gunner Matthew Slater.JPG
Matthew Slater for the New England Patriots has been named to nine Pro Bowl teams, primarily for his role as a gunner

In American football, a gunner, also known as a shooter, flyer, headhunter, or kamikaze, is a player on kickoffs and punts who specializes in running down the sideline very quickly in an attempt to tackle the kick or punt returner. [1] [2] Gunners must have several techniques in order to break away or "shed" blockers, and have good agility in order to change their running direction quickly. Gunners on the punt team also must be able to block or catch. [3]

Gunners typically also play positions as defensive backs, wide receivers, or running back when not on special teams, often as backups.

The counterpart on the return team is called the jammer, who is assigned to block the gunner of the punting team.

The NFL Pro Bowl features a "Special Teamer" position, along with a kicker, punter, and kick returner. This is often a gunner considered to be among the best. Steve Tasker, a 7-time Pro Bowler, is considered to be one of the top gunners in NFL history. [4] Pro Bowler Bill Bates of the 1980s1990s Dallas Cowboys was a well known gunner, known for daredevil plays. 9-time Pro Bowler Matthew Slater of the New England Patriots is also considered a top gunner, and contributed greatly to the Patriots Super Bowl winning teams in 2014, 2016 and 2018. [3]

Role

On punts there will be two offensive players on the punting team lined up close to the sideline. [1] These are called gunners. According to the NFL Rules Digest: [5]

During a kick from scrimmage, only the end men, as eligible receivers on the line of scrimmage at the time of the snap, are permitted to go beyond the line before the ball is kicked.

These two eligible receivers on the kicking team ― the gunners ― are allowed to start running down the field as soon as the ball is snapped. The gunner's job is to try to get down the field as fast as the kicked ball and tackle whoever catches it. [2] In the best case, they get there just before the ball and make the other team afraid to try to return it, leading to a fair catch. When a team lines up to punt, the other team lines up in a defense that is designed to also receive a punt. There typically will be one player lined up about 40 yards back; he is the punt returner, the player designated to catch the punt. There will also be a few players lined up on the gunners; these players are called jammers. [6] If the defense lines up two defenders on each gunner, then they are hoping to slow the gunners down, catch the punt, and try to run the punt back for a long gain or even a touchdown. If there is only one defender lined up on each gunner, then the receiving team has extra players rushing the punter, and they hope to block the punt. If no defenders are lined up on the gunners, the punting team may throw the ball to one of the gunners to pick up the first down.

Gunners typically play a similar role in kickoff coverage, in that like other members of the coverage group, they try to evade the blockers and tackle the kick returner. [7]

Related Research Articles

Canadian football Canadian team sport

Canadian football is a sport played in Canada in which two teams of 12 players each compete for territorial control of a field of play 110 yards (101 m) long and 65 yards (59 m) wide attempting to advance a pointed oval-shaped ball into the opposing team's scoring area.

Running back Position in American and Canadian football

A running back (RB) is a member of the offensive backfield in gridiron football. The primary roles of a running back are to receive handoffs from the quarterback to rush the ball, to line up as a receiver to catch the ball, and block. There are usually one or two running backs on the field for a given play, depending on the offensive formation. A running back may be a halfback, a wingback or a fullback. A running back will sometimes be called a "feature back" if he is the team's starting running back.

A wide receiver (WR), also referred to as a wideout, formerly a split end, is an eligible receiver in gridiron football. A key skill position of the offense, it gets its name from the player being split out "wide", farthest away from the rest of the offensive formation.

Onside kick Short kickoff in gridiron football to try to keep possession of the ball

In gridiron football, an onside kick is a kickoff deliberately kicked short in an attempt by the kicking team to regain possession of the ball. This is in contrast with a typical kickoff, in which the kicking team intends to give the ball to the other team and thus kicks the ball far downfield in order to maximize the distance the receiving team has to advance the ball in order to score. The risk to the team attempting an onside kick is that if it is unsuccessful and the receiving team gets the ball, the receiving team usually has a much better field position than it might have with a normal kickoff. Rules and procedures for onside kicks differ between the different codes and leagues of gridiron football.

This is a glossary of terms used in Canadian football. The Glossary of American football article also covers many terms that are also used in the Canadian version of the game.

  1. Legally positioned at the kick-off or the snap. On kick-offs, members of the kicking team must be behind the kick-off line; members of the receiving team must be at least 10 yards from the kick-off line. On scrimmages, at the snap the offence must be behind the line of scrimmage; the defence must be at least one yard beyond the line of scrimmage.
  2. A player of the kicking team who can legally recover the kick. The kicker and any teammates behind the ball at the time of the kick are onside. Thus on kick-offs all players of the kicking team are onside, but on other kicks usually only the kicker is. The holder on a place kick is not considered onside.
  1. A defensive position on scrimmages, also called free safety. Typical formations include a single safety, whose main duty is to cover wide receivers. See also defensive back.
  2. A two-point score. The defence scores a safety when the offence carries or passes the ball into its own goal area and then fails to run, pass, or kick the ball back into the field of play; when this term is used in this sense, it is also referred to as a safety touch.
Comparison of American and Canadian football

American and Canadian football are gridiron codes of football that are very similar; both have their origins in rugby football, but some key differences exist.

Strategy forms a major part of American football. Both teams plan many aspects of their plays (offense) and response to plays (defense), such as what formations they take, who they put on the field, and the roles and instructions each player are given. Throughout a game, each team adapts to the other's apparent strengths and weaknesses, trying various approaches to outmaneuver or overpower their opponent in order to win the game.

American football rules Rules for American football

Gameplay in American football consists of a series of downs, individual plays of short duration, outside of which the ball is dead or not in play. These can be plays from scrimmage – passes, runs, punts, or field goal attempts – or free kicks such as kickoffs and fair catch kicks. Substitutions can be made between downs, which allows for a great deal of specialization as coaches choose the players best suited for each particular situation. During a play, each team should have no more than 11 players on the field, and each of them has specific tasks assigned for that specific play.

A formation in football refers to the position players line up in before the start of a down. There are both offensive and defensive formations and there are many formations in both categories. Sometimes, formations are referred to as packages.

Starting lineup

In sports, a starting lineup is an official list of the set of players who will participate in the event when the game begins. The players in the starting lineup are commonly referred to as starters, whereas the others are substitutes or bench players.

Kickoff (gridiron football)

A kickoff is a method of starting a drive in gridiron football. Typically, a kickoff consists of one team – the "kicking team" – kicking the ball to the opposing team – the "receiving team". The receiving team is then entitled to return the ball, i.e., attempt to advance it towards the kicking team's end zone, until the player with the ball is tackled by the kicking team, goes out of bounds, or scores a touchdown. Kickoffs take place at the start of each half of play, the beginning of overtime in some overtime formats, and after scoring plays.

A trick play, also known as a gadget play, gimmick play or trickeration, is a play in gridiron football that uses deception and unorthodox tactics to fool the opposing team. A trick play is often risky, offering the potential for a large gain or a touchdown if it is successful, but with the chance of a significant loss of yards or a turnover if not. Trick plays are rarely used not only because of the riskiness, but also to maintain the element of surprise for when they are used.

American football positions Specific roles that players take in American football

In American football, the specific role that a player takes on the field is referred to as their "position." Under the modern rules of American football, both teams are allowed 11 players on the field at one time and have "unlimited free substitutions," meaning that they may change any number of players during any "dead ball" situation. This has resulted in the development of three task-specific "platoons" of players within any single team: the offense, the defense, and the so-called 'special teams'. Within these three separate "platoons", various positions exist depending on the job that player is doing.

Comparison of American football and rugby union

A comparison of American football and rugby union is possible because of the games' shared origins, despite their dissimilarities.

In American football a play is a close to the ground "plan of action" or "strategy" used to move the ball down the field. A play begins at either the snap from the center or at kickoff. Most commonly plays occur at the snap during a down. These plays range from basic to very intricate. Football players keep a record of these plays in their playbook.

Return specialist American/Canadian football player who specializes in kick returns

A return specialist or kick returner is a player on the special teams unit of a gridiron football team who specializes in returning punts and kickoffs. There are few players who are exclusively return specialists; most also play another position such as wide receiver, defensive back, or running back. The special teams counterpart of a return specialist is a kicking specialist.

The following terms are used in American football, both conventional and indoor. Some of these terms are also in use in Canadian football; for a list of terms unique to that code, see Glossary of Canadian football.

Punt (gridiron football)

In gridiron football, a punt is a kick performed by dropping the ball from the hands and then kicking the ball before it hits the ground. The most common use of this tactic is to punt the ball downfield to the opposing team, usually on the final down, with the hope of giving the receiving team a field position that is more advantageous to the kicking team when possession changes. The result of a typical punt, barring any penalties or extraordinary circumstances, is a first down for the receiving team. A punt is not to be confused with a drop kick, a kick after the ball hits the ground, now rare in both American and Canadian football.

References

Positions in American football and Canadian football
Offense (Skill position) Defense Special teams
Linemen Guard, Tackle, Center Linemen Tackle, End, Edge rusher Kicking Placekicker, Punter, Kickoff specialist
Quarterback (Dual-threat, Game manager, System) Linebacker Snapping Long snapper, Holder
Running backs Halfback/Tailback (Triple-threat, Change of pace), Fullback, H-back, Wingback Backs Cornerback, Safety, Halfback, Nickelback, Dimeback Returning Punt returner, Kick returner, Jammer, Upman
Receivers Wide receiver (Eligible), Tight end, Slotback, End Tackling Gunner, Upback, Utility
Formations (List)NomenclatureStrategy