In gridiron football, defensive backs (DBs), also called the secondary, are the players on the defensive side of the ball who play furthest back from the line of scrimmage. They are distinguished from the other two sets of defensive players, the defensive linemen who play directly on the line of scrimmage, and the linebackers, who play in the middle of the defense, between the defensive line and the defensive backs. Among the defensive backs, there are two main types,
cornerback A cornerback (CB) is a member of the defensive backfield or secondary in gridiron football. Cornerbacks cover Wide receiver, receivers most of the time, but also blitz and defend against such Play from scrimmage, offensive running plays as sweeps ...

s, which play nearer the line of scrimmage and the sideline, whose main role is to cover the opposing team's wide receivers, and the safeties, who play further back near the center of the field, and who act as the last line of defense. The standard defense usually includes two of each, a left and right cornerback, as well as a
strong safety Safety, historically known as a safetyman, is a position in gridiron football played by a member of the defense Defense or defence may refer to: Tactical, martial, and political acts or groups * Defense (military), forces primarily intended f ...
and a
free safety Safety, historically known as a safetyman, is a position in gridiron football Gridiron football,
, with the free safety tending to play further back than the strong safety. Additionally, in
Canadian football Canadian football () is a team sport, sport played in Canada in which two teams of 12 players each compete for territorial control of a field of play long and wide attempting to advance a pointed oval-shaped ball into the opposing team's scor ...

Canadian football
, which has twelve players on the field compared to the eleven of
American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular American football field, field with goalposts at each end. T ...
, there is an additional player called a defensive halfback, which plays like a hybrid between a linebacker and cornerback. Besides the standard set of defensive backs, teams may also remove a defensive lineman or a linebacker and replace them with an additional defensive back. The fifth defensive back is commonly called the
nickelback Nickelback is a Canadian rock band formed in 1995 in Hanna, Alberta. It is composed of guitarist and lead vocalist Chad Kroeger, guitarist, keyboardist and backing vocalist Ryan Peake, bassist Mike Kroeger, and drummer Daniel Adair. It went ...
(so named because a five-cent coin in the U.S. and Canada is called a
nickel Nickel is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numb ...
). By extension, a sixth defensive back is called a dimeback (because the next value coin in the U.S. and Canada is called a dime). Rarely, teams may employ seven or even eight defensive backs. Historic notable defensive backs include Dick "Night Trane" Lane, Mike Haynes, Ronnie Lott, and Troy Polamalu.

See also

* American football positions


{{Authority control American football positions