Running Back Position in Football: What Do They Do?

Running back position in football: Running back is one of the most important positions in football. They are a part of the offensive backfield, despite having roles on the field other than carrying the ball. Below is the complete guide to what an RB accomplishes during a game, types of running backs, some of the best players, and more. 

What does a football RB position do?

During a game, a football running back position in College or the NFL is responsible for a number of tasks. They are accountable for:

  • Running with the ball.
  • Blocking defensive linemen and other players during blitz plays.
  • Opening up to receive passes.
  • Attempting to play the role of a dummy.
  • Being a special teams punt- or kick returner.


RB player also needs to have outstanding hand-eye coordination in addition to these responsibilities. In order to find opportunities during a running play, they are able to make catches, have the tremendous speed to avoid tackles, and have a general understanding of defensive formations.

Running backs’ primary duties include receiving handoffs from the quarterback for rushing plays, positioning themselves as receivers to catch passes thrown out of the backfield, and blocking.

How many types of running backs are there?

The distinctions between the types of American football running backs are based on traits like their role on the field, size, and strength.

RB football position can be classified as halfbacks (HB), tailbacks (TB), and fullbacks (FB). Although the first two positions are frequently confused, each has unique qualities.


One of the most crucial players is the halfback. They often run the ball on most plays while standing close to the quarterback and can also serve as a receiver on short pass plays. Typically, he is smaller and faster than the fullback.



They play a position akin to the halfback but behind the quarterback, making a T-shape on the field. They also have a versatile profile because one of their duties is to fill in empty spaces for various plays. While in the backfield, they frequently catch the ball.


These players rarely carry the ball. Because nowadays they are more frequently seen assisting offensive linemen in blocking prospective tacklers before they get to the ball carrier, who is frequently the halfback, they are increasingly common. They need to move quickly, yet they can also effectively block opponents.

Some of the best running back position in football ever

Barry Sanders (1989-1998): Standing only 5’8″, he made up for his short size with a mix of quickness and speed. Sanders, who won the NFL MVP award in 1997, had a standout career during which he led the league in rushing yards four times.

Emmitt Smith (1990-2004): Smith’s career ranks among the best in NFL history as a four-time Super Bowl champion and the league’s all-time leader in rushing yards.

Walter Payton (1975-1987): Payton’s career with the Chicago Bears is highly acclaimed, with over 16,000 career running yards and 125 total touchdowns.


Jim Brown (1957–1965): Brown’s career, which lasted almost ten years and was filled with success, held the NFL record for rushing yards and touchdowns when he retired. While playing for the Browns, Brown won an NFL championship and was a three-time NFL MVP. He continues to be the only athlete to have ever had a lifetime average of more than 5 yards per rush.

Ladanian Tomlinson (2001–2011): Tomlinson was a formidable force in the NFL during the 2006 season when he amassed 28 rushing touchdowns. Tomlinson was a real all-purpose running back during his time with the Chargers. He amassed nearly 5,000 receiving yards out of the backfield in his career.

Why is the Running Back football position so important?

Coaches frequently claim that their players – rather than the plays they devise – are what propel a team to success over the course of a season. This is also true for RB since the difference between average and excellent running backs is their capacity to convert a bad play into a 50-yard rush. 

A successful football play involves breaking tackles, making opponents miss, and outrunning defenders, among other things. Moreover, effective RB football positions combine all of these activities.


Elite playmakers are what give offenses their unique and fruitful qualities. And the RB position in football is crucial to a football team’s success. A savvy, trustworthy running back who can run, block, and catch is a major asset to any team in today’s offensive.

Final thought

In conclusion, the running back position in football is crucial to any offense. An RB position in football must play multiple positions throughout a game, similar to the tight end position. Despite their preference for running with the ball, they may need to serve as an extra blocker or pass target for the quarterback.

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