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Encyclopedia > Wide Receiver

The wide receiver (WR) position in American and Canadian football is the pass-catching specialist. Wide receivers (also referred to as wideouts or simply receivers) are among the fastest and most agile players in the game, and they are frequent highlight-reel favorites. The wide receiver position is among the most glamorous in American football because wide receivers are often responsible for the biggest plays made by the offensive team. Canadian football is a sport in which two teams of twelve players each compete for territorial control of a field of play 110 yards (100. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into American football positions. ...


First and foremost, the wide receiver's job is to catch passes from the quarterback. On passing plays, the receiver attempts to avoid, outmaneuver, or simply outrun defenders (typically cornerbacks or safeties) in the area of his pass route. If the receiver becomes open, or has an unobstructed path to the destination of a catch, he may then become the quarterback's target. Once a pass is thrown in his direction, the receiver's goal is to first catch the ball and then attempt to run downfield. Some receivers are perceived as the deep threat because of their speed, while others may be possession receivers known for not dropping passes and converting third down situations. A receiver's height and weight also contribute to his expected role; tall in height and light in weight are advantages at the receiver position. In several forms of football a forward pass is when the ball is thrown from one player to another on the same team, ending closer to the opponents goal line. ... Navy quarterback Aaron Polanco sets up to throw. ... In American football and Canadian football, defensive backs are the players on the defensive team who take positions somewhat back from the line of scrimmage; they are distinguished from the defensive line players, who take positions directly behind the line of scrimmage. ...

Wide receivers, and the passing game generally, are particularly important when a team uses a hurry-up offense. Receivers are able to position themselves near the sideline to run out of bounds, stopping the clock at the end of the play (a failed (incomplete) pass attempt will also stop the clock). The hurry-up offense, no-huddle offense or two-minute drill, is an American football offensive strategy designed to run a series of plays quickly and efficiently using as little of the time remaining as possible. ...

A wide receiver has two potential roles in running plays that range in status. Particularly in the case of draw plays, he may run a pass route with the intent of drawing off defenders. Alternately, he may block normally for the running back. Well-rounded receivers are noted for blocking defensive backs in support of teammates in addition to their pass-catching abilities. A draw is a type of football play that tricks the defense into thinking a pass is being thrown, when in fact a running play has been called. ...

Sometimes wide receivers are used to run the ball, usually in some form of reverse. This can be effective because the defense usually does not expect them to be the ball carrier on running plays. Although receivers are rarely used as ball carriers, running the ball with a receiver can be extremely successful. For example, in addition to holding nearly every National Football League receiving record, wide receiver Jerry Rice also rushed the ball 87 times for 645 yards and 10 touchdowns in his 20 NFL seasons.[1] A reverse (sometimes referred to as an end reverse) is an unorthodox play (often called a trick play) in American football. ... The National Football League (NFL) is the largest and most prestigious professional American football league, consisting of thirty-two teams from American cities and regions. ... Jerry Lee Rice (born October 13, 1962 in Crawford, Mississippi) is a former football wide receiver in the NFL. Rice is widely regarded as among the greatest wide receivers in NFL history, consistently showing exceptional performance and strong work ethic on and off of the field. ...

In some even rarer cases, receivers are used to pass the ball as part of a trick play. Although this is one of the rarest things a receiver will ever do, some receivers have proven to be capable passers, such as Antwaan Randle El's touchdown pass to Hines Ward in Super Bowl XL. Wide receivers also serve on special teams as return men on kickoffs and punts, or as part of the hands team during onside kicks.[2][3] A trick play, also known as a gadget play, is a play in American football that uses deception and unorthodox strategies to fool the opposing team. ... Antwaan Randle El (born August 17, 1979 in Riverdale, Illinois) is a wide receiver and punt returner for the Washington Redskins of the National Football League. ... Hines E. Ward, Jr. ... An onside kick is a term used in American football and Canadian football for a play on a kickoff in which the ball is kicked a shorter distance than usual in order for the team that kicked it to regain possession of the ball. ...

Finally, on bad passes, receivers must frequently play a defensive role by attempting to prevent an interception. If a pass is intercepted, receivers must use their speed to chase down and tackle the ball carrier to prevent him from returning the ball for a long gain or a touchdown.


While the general fan base and most commentators use the generic term wide receiver for all such players, specific names exist for most receiver positions:

  • Split end (X or SE): A receiver on the line of scrimmage, necessary to meet the rule requiring seven such players at snap. Where applicable, this receiver is on the opposite side of the tight end. The split end is farthest from center on his side of the field.[4]
  • Flanker (Z or FL): A receiver lining up behind the line of scrimmage. Frequently the team's featured receiver, the flanker uses the initial buffer between himself and a defender to avoid jamming, legal contact within five yards of the line of scrimmage. The flanker is generally on the same side of the formation as a tight end. As with the split end, this receiver is the farthest player from center on his side of the field. The flanker is probably lined up just like a split end EXCEPT that he is just behind the line of scrimmage, being in the backfield and not on the line.[5]
  • Slot receiver (Y or SL): A less-formal name given to receivers in addition to split ends and flankers. These receivers line up between the split end / flanker and the linemen. If aligned with a flanker, the slot receiver is usually on the line of scrimmage, and if with a split end, off the line of scrimmage. As with the flanker position, a featured receiver often takes a slot position with a split end to avoid jamming.[5]
  • Slot back: A receiver lining up in the offensive back field. Canadian and Arena football allow them to take a running start at the line. They are usually larger players as they need to make catches over the middle. In American football slot backs are typically used in flexbone or other Triple Option offenses while Canadian football uses them in almost all formations.

This article does not cite its references or sources. ... A snap (colloquially called a hike, snapback, or pass from center) starts each American football and Canadian football play from scrimmage. ... In American football and Canadian football, defensive backs are the players on the defensive team who take positions somewhat back from the line of scrimmage; they are distinguished from the defensive line players, who take positions directly behind the line of scrimmage. ... Arena football is a sport invented by Jim Foster, a former executive of the United States Football League and the National Football League. ... // The Formation The base flexbone formation with two slotbacks (SB), two wide receivers (WR), a quarterback (QB), a fullback (FB), and five down linemen (OL). ... The Triple Option is an American football term for a running or possibly passing play, which involves three different ways to progress the football up the field of play. ...


  1. ^ Jerry Rice career statistics at SI.com
  2. ^ Peter Warrick career stats, receiving and punt returns at NFL.com
  3. ^ Receiver Randal Williams returns onside kick for touchdown at NFL.com
  4. ^ Wide receiver terminology at phillyburbs.com
  5. ^ a b Wide receiver terminology at phillyburbs.com

  Results from FactBites:
Dane Oliver's Wide Receiver College (0 words)
Wide Receiver College is not your typical football camp.
The curriculum is specifically designed to teach wide receivers to play the game intelligently, to be "coaches on the field" and to be true leaders during games, in practice, during the off-season, and in everyday life.
Wide Receiver College is for quarterbacks and receivers alike.
Wide receiver - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1405 words)
The wide receiver position is among the most famous in American Football because they are often responsible for the biggest plays made on by the offensive team.
They also point to the fact that wide receivers score a majority of the points on a team, and place their health in the most danger, as a catch usually involves a hit that is unprotectable.
These critics state a wide receiver is merely 1 of 2, 3, 4, or 5 possible receivers at any time, and their catches are merely a by product of the other receivers running the correct routes and the quarterback hitting them perfectly with a pass.
  More results at FactBites »



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