What Does Edge Mean in American Football? Here's Everything to Know

Allison DeGrushe - Author
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Apr. 28 2023, Published 12:47 p.m. ET

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If you have a basic understanding of American football, you're probably familiar with terms like huddle, touchdown, and fumble. However, there are certain words and phrases that will undoubtedly leave you stumped.

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For fans, learning the vast array of terms can be overwhelming; words like shotgun, flea flicker, blitz, and squib kick are just a few examples of jargon that can be confusing. Among these terms, "edge" can be particularly perplexing.

On that note, what does "edge" mean in American football? Keep reading to find out!

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What does edge mean in football?

Simply put, the term "edge" pertains to the furthest point of the line of scrimmage. The word is alternately known as "edge rusher," which refers to (unofficial) positions on the field. Players considered edge rushers— usually defensive ends or outside linebackers — will line up furthest outside of the offensive formation.

In the sport, the edge plays a vital role; plus, the responsibilities of the edge rushers are crucial.

According to Football Advantage, edge rushers must do everything they can to prevent the ball carrier from getting to the sideline during running plays. Their primary task is to tackle the player or, as stated before, force them back inside the field where most of the other defenders are waiting.

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As for passing plays, this is where the edge rushers really get to shine — they line up wide on the field, which ensures they go one-on-one with either offensive tackles or tight ends and hopefully intercept the ball.

With these abilities and responsibilities, you may be wondering: Which players make good edge rushers? Well, it all depends on the defensive formation. In a 4-3 base defense — four linemen and three linebackers — a defensive end will almost always assume the role of an edge rusher. But when it comes to a 3-4 base defense — three linemen and four linebackers — an outside linebacker often act as the edge rusher.

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