A feature back in a football is a running back that is the primary ball carrier for their team. This type of running back is the clear cut starter on their team and can fulfil all the responsibilities of the running back position.
On many football teams, there are going to be several different running backs that fulfil the duties of the position.
Aside from a feature back there may be a power back that gets short-yardage, another running back style may be a three-down rb that can excel in pass protection.
The feature back is all of these players in one and due to their skill set, they will be able to play a large number of snaps each game.
What duties does a feature back have in football?
Now that you know a feature back is a jack of all trades you may be wondering what sort of duties these players have to fulfil to earn this title.
Running inside and outside the tackles
To be considered a feature back in football you are going to need the ability to run inside and outside the tackles.
This refers to running plays in the middle of the field and those towards the sideline. Oftentimes smaller players tend to do outside runs but do not have the frame to run between the tackles.
Similarly larger running backs are often successful in running between the offensive tackles but they do not possess the speed to run towards the outside.
A feature back is able to handle both of these responsibilities.
Catching passes and pass protection
To earn the feature back moniker in football a player will also have to assume the duties of a third-down back.
A third-down back is a player that can catch passes and protects the quarterback. On third down, teams are often expected to pass the ball.
This results in running backs that can help on pass plays being put onto the field. These players must be ready to catch short passes from the quarterback or pickup unblocked defenders in the pocket.
Blocking defenders is an incredibly important aspect of play on third down as the failure to do so often results in a sack.
This is also a fairly difficult job as the defenders rushing the quarterback are often going to be noticeably larger than the running back.
Feature backs need to fulfil both these roles if they want to stay on the field during third down.
Goal-line and short-yardage duties
One more role that an RB needs to fulfil to be a feature back is that of the short-yardage back.
Short yardage backs are players that can get the team a few yards even when the defense knows it’s coming.
These players are often larger and use their weight to fall forwards and push defenders toward their own goal line.
A quality feature back is going to be incredibly effective in short-yardage situations.
These players will be able to convert third and short situations and score goal-line touchdowns just as easily as a short-yardage back.
Oftentimes these feature backs can be even more effective than a traditional short-yardage back as they are able to offer more flexibility in terms of playcalling when they are on the field.