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The halfback in Canadian football, and most commonly the Canadian Football League, currently refers to the defensive back rather than the running back, as in American football. The defensive halfback lines up inside covering the slotback. They are usually slightly larger than the cornerback to assist the linebackers in stopping the run. They can also be seen backing off the line early, to counter the forward motion of a slotback, which is allowed before the snap in the CFL.
The cause of the difference in naming between the two positions between the American and Canadian game, which otherwise uses the same names for positions, stems from the early history of the game. In both games, the early formations featured identical offensive and defensive formations, with seven down linemen and four players (five in Canada) in the backfield. Thus, both the offense and defense had quarterbacks, halfbacks and fullbacks. Over the course of the 20th century, the American and Canadian games both placed an increased emphasis on forward passing, resulting in both offensive and defensive formations spreading out and morphing into modern formations. Furthermore, the abolition of the one-platoon system in the 1940s led to a tendency for position names being used on only one side of the ball. The American game, which still held a significant running component (modern American football is more balanced between both running and passing), kept two running backs, which led to the retention of the "halfback" and "fullback" identifications on that side of the ball.
In Canadian football, however, passing was (and still is) a greater portion of the game (due in part to the larger field and one less down in that game) and only one running back was regularly used, leading to the offensive distinction between halfback and fullback eventually becoming obsolete. Historically, the offensive halfback was similar to a slotback and lined up off the tight end, running sweeps, pass patterns and performing blocking duties, but could also run out of the backfield in front of the fullback, much like a standard running back in American football.
The rough equivalents of the halfback position in American football are the strong safety and nickelback.
|Positions in American football and Canadian football|
|Offense (Skill position)||Defense||Special teams|
|Linemen||Guard, Tackle, Center||Linemen||Tackle, End||Kicking players||Placekicker, Punter, Kickoff specialist|
|Quarterback (Dual-threat, Game manager, System)||Linebacker||Snapping||Long snapper, Holder|
|Backs||Halfback/Tailback (Triple-threat), 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) — Nomenclature — Strategy|
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The quarterback, colloquially known as the "signal caller", is a position in gridiron football. Quarterbacks are members of the offensive team and line up directly behind the offensive line. In modern American football, the quarterback is usually considered the leader of the offensive team, and is often responsible for calling the play in the huddle. The quarterback also touches the ball on almost every offensive play, and is the offensive player that almost always throws forward passes. When the QB is tackled behind the line of scrimmage, it is called a sack.
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, 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.
In American and Canadian football, a single-wing formation was a precursor to the modern spread or shotgun formation. The term usually connotes formations in which the snap is tossed rather than handed—formations with one wingback and a handed snap are commonly called "wing T" or "winged T".
American football positions have slowly evolved over the history of the sport. From its origins in early rugby football to the modern game, the names and roles of various positions have changed greatly, some positions no longer exist, and others have been created to fill new roles.
In American football, the pro set or split backs formation is a formation that was commonly used as a "base" set by professional and amateur teams. The "pro set" formation featured an offensive backfield that deployed two running backs aligned side-by-side instead of one in front of the other as in traditional I-formation sets. It was an outgrowth of the three running back T-formation, with the third running back in the T becoming a permanent flanker, now referred to as a wide receiver.
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.
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.
The halfback option play is an unorthodox play in American and Canadian football. It resembles a normal running play, but the running back has the option to throw a pass to another eligible receiver before crossing the line of scrimmage.
An H-back is an offensive position in American football. The H-back lines up similarly to a tight end, but is "set back" from the line of scrimmage, and is thus counted as one of the four "backs" in the offensive formation. The H-back, while similar in name, should not be confused with "halfback" or "running back", which are used to denote a separate, primary ball-carrying backfield position. The position was made notable in the National Football League (NFL) by the Washington Redskins under head coach Joe Gibbs, who ran a two tight end system. The position was named F-back when used later in Norv Turner's offensive system. The position is similar to that of a slotback.
In American football, a T formation is a formation used by the offensive team in which three running backs line up in a row about five yards behind the quarterback, forming the shape of a "T".
A halfback (HB) is an offensive position in American football, whose duties involve lining up in the backfield and carrying the ball on most rushing plays, i.e. a running back. When the principal ball carrier lines up deep in the backfield, and especially when that player is placed behind another player, as in the I formation, that player is instead referred to as a tailback.
In American football each team has 11 players on the field at one time. The specific role that a player takes on the field is called their position. Under the modern rules of American football, teams are allowed free substitutions; that is, teams may change any number of players after any play. This has resulted in the development of three "platoons" of players: the offense, the defense, and the special teams. Within those platoons, various specific positions exist depending on what each player's main job is.
Slotback, sometimes referred to as an A-back or, especially in the United States, slot receiver, is a position in gridiron football. The "slot" is the area between the last offensive lineman on either side of the center and the wide receiver on that side. A player who lines up between those two players and behind the line of scrimmage is a slotback. The position is a fixture of Canadian football and indoor football, but is also used in American football. The slotback is similar to the wide receiver but also has many of the same traits as a running back or tight end; a slotback lines up closer to the offensive line and often farther back than a wide receiver.
Safety, historically known as a safetyman, is a position in gridiron football played by a member of the defense. The safeties are defensive backs who line up from ten to fifteen yards from the line of scrimmage. There are two variations of the position in a typical American formation: the free safety (FS) and the strong safety (SS). Their duties depend on the defensive scheme. The defensive responsibilities of the safety and cornerback usually involve pass coverage towards the middle and sidelines of the field, respectively. While American (11-player) formations generally use two safeties, Canadian (12-player) formations generally have one safety and two defensive halfbacks, a position not used in the American game. As professional and college football have become more focused on the passing game, safeties have become more involved in covering the eligible pass receivers.
The flexbone formation It is an offensive formation in American football that includes a quarterback, five offensive linemen, three running backs, and varying numbers of tight ends and wide receivers. The flexbone formation is a predominant turnover formation derived from the wishbone formation and it features a quarterback under center with a fullback lined up directly behind the quarterback. There are two smaller running backs called slotbacks aligned behind the line of scrimmage on each side of the offensive line. The slotbacks are sometimes incorrectly referred to as wingbacks. But in order to be a wingback, there must be a guard, tackle and tight end all on one side of the center on the line of scrimmage and then the wingback off the line of scrimmage.
The triple option is an American football play used to offer several ways to move the football forward on the field of play. The triple option is based on the option run, but uses three players who might run with the ball instead of the two used in a standard option run.
A fullback (FB) is a position known as the best position in the game of football, in the offensive backfield in gridiron football, and is one of the two running back positions along with the halfback. Typically, fullbacks are larger than halfback and in most offensive schemes their duties are split between power running, pass catching, and blocking for both the quarterback and the other running back.
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.
In American football, a back is a player who plays off of the line of scrimmage. Historically, the term "back" was used to describe multiple positions on offense and defense, although more descriptive and specific position naming is now common. Thus, "back" can refer to positions including: