In linebacker play, you always defend the run first. You’ll also need to be able to play pass coverage and pick up receivers in your zone.
To hone your skills, set up approximately five yards off the line of scrimmage in an athletic position, toes pointing forward. Keep your head up, looking through the offensive line to read the run and a handoff from the quarterback to the running back. Take a read step and play the run with a few stutter steps forward, staying balanced and ready to react.
As soon as you see that pass play, open your hips and quickly get into your zone position, scanning the offense for the closest receiver.
The quicker you can read the play and get into your zone, the more likely you are to make a play on defense. Use the read step while staying balanced so you can protect your zone.