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If you are "kicking off" the ball, you will need a "kicker," which you wouldn't need ordinarily. If your team is "receiving" a ball, you would need two men in the back field instead of three. You might substitute an extra blocker for a quarterback.

My understanding is that the respective "special" teams differ from their respective defensive and offensive lines by more than the one person I have hypothesized. How and why is that?

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The personnel in a team are part of 3 sub-teams or units: Offense, Defense, and the Special team. A player may be part of more than one unit. Tho it's very rear to see a player play for both the offense and the defense nowadays.

The offense is the team consisting of the Quarterback and everyone who plays with him. The defense is the team that goes against the opposing team's offensive team. The Special team consist of player that are used during any kicking action (kick off, field goal, punting).

They're called "Special" cause they play in special occasion, not the usual drives. Some players like the long snapper, kicker, and punter almost always play only for the special team unit. But there are many players that play in the special team, and either the defense or the offense.

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