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A linebacker (LB or backer) is a playing position in gridiron football. Linebackers are members of the defensive team, and line up approximately three to five yards (4 m) behind the line of scrimmage and behind the defensive linemen. They represent the "middle ground" of defenders, playing closer to the line of scrimmage than do the defensive backs (or secondary), but further back than do the defensive linemen. Historically, some of the most impactful defensive players, such as Pro Football Hall of Fame members Mike Singletary, Lawrence Taylor, and Ray Lewis, were linebackers.

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  • Linebacker
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  • A linebacker (LB or backer) is a playing position in gridiron football. Linebackers are members of the defensive team, and line up approximately three to five yards (4 m) behind the line of scrimmage and behind the defensive linemen. They represent the "middle ground" of defenders, playing closer to the line of scrimmage than do the defensive backs (or secondary), but further back than do the defensive linemen. Historically, some of the most impactful defensive players, such as Pro Football Hall of Fame members Mike Singletary, Lawrence Taylor, and Ray Lewis, were linebackers.
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  • A linebacker (LB or backer) is a playing position in gridiron football. Linebackers are members of the defensive team, and line up approximately three to five yards (4 m) behind the line of scrimmage and behind the defensive linemen. They represent the "middle ground" of defenders, playing closer to the line of scrimmage than do the defensive backs (or secondary), but further back than do the defensive linemen. As such, linebackers play a hybrid role and are often the most versatile players on the defensive side of the ball; they can be asked to play roles similar to either a defensive lineman (such as stopping the runner on a running play) or a defensive back (such as dropping back into pass coverage). How a linebacker plays their position depends greatly on the defensive alignment, the philosophy of the coaching staff, and the particular play the offense may call. Within the linebacking corps, they are often divided into middle linebackers, sometimes called inside linebackers, and outside linebackers. The middle linebacker, often called the "Mike", is frequently the "quarterback of the defense". His central role on the field means he is in the best position to call defensive plays and direct shifts and changes based on what the offense is doing. Outside linebackers are often in a unique position to blitz, a type of defensive maneuver where the player rushes unexpectedly into the offensive backfield in an attempt to disrupt a running play or sack the quarterback on passing plays. Besides "Mike", other nicknames such as "Sam", "Will", or "Jack", among others, are commonly used to refer to various linebacking roles, to ease communication in play-calling. Historically, some of the most impactful defensive players, such as Pro Football Hall of Fame members Mike Singletary, Lawrence Taylor, and Ray Lewis, were linebackers.
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