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American Football

NFL safety: What position is it and how does it work?

NFL safety: What position is it and how does it work?George Gojkovich/Getty Images
This is one of the most challenging positions in the NFL.

The safety position in the NFL is one of the most complex. 

It's a defensive position which can be seen as a hybrid between a linebacker and a cornerback, and it requires a varied skillset. 

During a game, the safety is often the last line of defense and therefore their role is critical. 

When it comes the position itself, a safety can be put into one of two categories, a free safety and strong safety, and DAZN explains the differences below. 

What is the difference between a strong and free safety? 

A strong safety usually concentrates on stopping the run and covering the tight end, which means bigger and stronger players are more suited to this role. 

A free safety meanwhile relies on their speed and ability to cover receivers.

But while there are differences between these two types of safety, teams now look at players who could satsify both roles as offensive playbooks continue to evolve. 

What are the responsibilities of a safety? 

Stop players from getting in behind

A safety's primary responsibility is to not let the ball carrier get past them. 

If covering receivers, a safety will need to prevent any opposition player from going in behind, while on running plays, a safety needs to tackle the ball carrier or force them to move horizontally. 

Support the defense against the run 

It is common for safeties to approach the line of scrimmage before a play begins and if the offense conducts a running play, the safety will act as a fourth linebacker. 

In this particular situation, the safety would then look to make the tackle or guide the ball carrier to a teammate who will look to make the tackle.