What Does CB Mean In Football?

Football positions can be confusing. And once these positions are referred to by letters instead of names many fans find themselves scratching their heads.

The acronym CB in football refers to the position of Cornerback. Cornerbacks are responsible for covering wide receivers and attempting to stop the opposing team from completing forward passes.

Cornerbacks typically line up near the sideline as the furthest players from the middle of the field. CBs line up in this position because this is where the opposing team’s WR (wide receiver) lines up.

Some formations will also include a slot corner sometimes referred to as a nickel corner which lines up closer to the middle of the field.

In most formations, there will be two cornerbacks on the field. Both lined up on either sideline in front of a wide receiver.

When a slot corner is on the field there are three CBs on the field at that time.

What Does A CB Do In Football?

Now that you’ve learned that CB stands for cornerback in football you may be wondering what exactly these players do on the field. Below we will cover some of the main responsibilities that cornerbacks have on the football field.

Man Coverage Against Wide Receivers

CB lined up in coverage against wide receivers
Cornerbacks (CBs) highlighted in red

One of the main responsibilities of cornerbacks on the football field is covering wide receivers in man coverage.

Man coverage refers to when a defender is assigned a specific offensive player to cover for the entirety of the play.

For a cornerback(CB), this means you must follow around a wide receiver where ever he goes on the field.

This is a difficult job for a cornerback which is why other defenders will often help out if the receiver starts to go deeper down the field.

In most cases, cornerbacks will only have to cover the wide receiver for a few seconds before the pass rush forces the quarterback to throw the ball.

CBs that are especially skilled at man coverage are often the most valued players at the position. If a cornerback can lock down a receiver one-on-one then they are going to be an asset to the defense.

Covering athletic wide receivers in man coverage is one of the main reasons playing the cornerback position is so difficult.

Run Support On The Outside

CB/cornerback play design in which they must step up and make the tackle against a running back rushing the ball
The cornerback(CB) must step up an attempt to tackle the RB as he runs to the outside.

Though cornerbacks are primarily used in pass coverage they also have responsibilities in stopping rushing plays.

Cornerbacks line up on the outside in front of wide receivers meaning they are often too far away from rushing plays to be involved.

Though when running backs take the ball towards the sideline the cornerback may be relied upon to make the tackle.

Since they line up in front of the wide receiver the receiver will attempt to block them from reaching the ball carrier.

The cornerback will be expected to fight through the block of the wide receiver in order to get to the ball carrier.

Zone Coverage

Cornerbacks in a cover three zone defense
Example of cornerbacks playing a deep zone in a cover 3

On top of playing man coverage against wide receivers, cornerbacks can also be asked to play zone coverage depending on the defensive scheme.

Zone coverage involves covering a specific area of the field as opposed to covering a certain player.

When an offensive player enters a cornerbacks zone he needs to be sure to cover that player so that the quarterback is not able to throw him the ball.

If the ball is ultimately handed off or the quarterback runs with the ball the CB will be expected to abandon his assignment and should pursue the ball carrier.

That’s all for the CB position in football if you want to learn more about positional acronyms see our guide to TE (Tight End) or MLB (Middle linebacker).

All of our articles on this topic are covered in our position acronyms category.

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