How Many Players Are on a Football Team?


In the National Football League (NFL), each team has 53 players on its roster. Only 46 of those players can dress in uniform and play in a game. Injuries, ability and personal situations may impact who is part of the 46-man roster each week.

Practice Squads 

Each NFL team can also have a practice squad made up of 10 players. Practice squad players can only workout with the team during practices. They are unable to play in regulation games. The team pays practice squad players weekly, does not sign them to long-term contracts and can release them at any time. If a practice squad player is released, he’s free to sign on with another team’s practice squad or even join that team’s roster.

Injury Reserve

If a player is injured at the beginning of the season and can’t play, a team can place him on the injury reserve list. Players on the list don’t count as part of the 53-man roster. While they take part in team activities, they can’t play in games or practice throughout the year. However, a rule put into place in 2017 allows two players from each team’s injury reserve list to rejoin the team after eight weeks of season play.

Physically Unable to Perform

NFL teams also have a list for players who are physically unable to perform. This list contains players who aren’t eligible to play at the end of preseason but who want to stay on the team. They can rejoin the team after six weeks of regular season play. Placing a player on this list frees up a spot on the regular 53-man roster, but it allows the player to join the team again during the regular season.

How Many Players on the Field During an NFL Game?

During an NFL game, only 11 players from a team can be on the field at once. Depending on what’s going on during the game, the 11 players may be part of the offense, part of the defense or part of special teams. The offensive players attempt to score points for the team. The defensive players attempt to block the other team from scoring. Special teams comes out for field goals, punts and punt returns.

Too Many Men on the Field Penalty 

If a team has too many men on the field, they’ll receive a penalty. This penalty can happen if a team is pulling one player out and putting another in, but the player coming out of the game doesn’t get off the field before the snap. It can also happen if more than 11 players join a huddle or extra players line up for play formation. 

How Many Players on a College Football Team?

College football teams have a little more freedom when it comes to adding players to their teams. NCAA schools have a limit of 125 active players at any given time. That said, most teams have about 60 to 70 players with many others, especially freshmen and sophomores, working to make the team in the years to come.

How Many Players on the Field During College Play?

Like the NFL, only 11 players can be on the field during gameplay. Unlike the NFL, college teams don’t have to report injuries or place players on lists, such as the injury reserve.