Making up a Defense

The next two months will be full of football. Between college bowl games and the pro football playoffs, every sports fan is excited about the big games to come. During this time, fans hear a lot about star players  big-time quarterbacks, sure-handed receivers and dashing running back. These are the players that put points on the board and earn spots on the highlight shows.

On the other side of the ball, though, the players work just as hard. There's an old saying that offense puts fans in the seats but defense wins championships. Often, defenses are looked at in terms of the entire unit, not the individual players. But in order to have a strong defensive unit, you need good players at ever position.

Defensive line: Defensive ends and defensive tackles try to control the line of scrimmage. On running plays, they try to tackle the other team's running back before he can gain much yardage. On passing plays, they try to sack the quarterback. Even if they can't sack the quarterback, these players try to put pressure on him so he makes a poor throw. Linemen are usually a good combination of size and speed. They have to be very strong in order to get passed the offensive lineman trying to block them, but they also have to be fast in order to get to the quarterback.

Linebackers: The linebackers are generally the best athletes on the defensive unit. They line up behind the defensive line and, depending on the play, have a number of different duties. Linebackers will rush the quarterback, prevent against the run or even drop back into coverage. They are usually hard-hitters and can cover a lot of ground quickly.

Secondary: The defensive secondary is made up of cornerbacks and safeties, also known as defensive backs. These players have two main roles - to cover the receivers and prevent the offense from completing a pass and to be the last line of defense against the run. Because they have to match up against wide receivers, defensive backs are the fastest players on the defense. They are also quick moving side to side and can stop short and make cuts just like receivers.

It takes a number of different styles of players to make up a good defense. Teamwork is extremely important among these players - if a linebacker is rushing the quarterback, a defensive back has to step up and cover the linebacker's portion of the field. Defensive players spend endless hours in the weight room, at practice and in meetings to make sure that they know exactly what's going on game day. It's a lot of work, but the payoff is enticing - after all, defense wins championships.

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