Slot Wide Receivers
A slot is a narrow opening, usually in the form of a hole or groove, into which something can be inserted. For example, one might put a coin in the slot on a vending machine to receive a prize. Alternatively, it can refer to a position or assignment. One might say, “I have a new slot to fill,” or, “She slotted into the role quickly.” Finally, it can refer to a time in a schedule or program. A visitor might book a time slot a week in advance.
In sports, the slot receiver is a wide receiver who lines up inside the formation, typically in direct relation to the quarterback. They are shorter and faster than traditional wide receivers, with a need for advanced route running skills and precision in their timing. In addition, they need to have great blocking ability, as they are a critical cog in the offensive machine and are often responsible for blocking on running plays.
The term slot is sometimes used to refer to a position on a team, but it is more often used to describe the player’s specific role in the formation, or their function on a given play. For instance, a player might be referred to as the “slot” on an offense that features two tight ends and three wideouts, with the slot receiving the ball more often than not. In this situation, the slot is usually the second wide receiver in the formation, behind the X-receiver.
Slot receivers must be able to run just about every possible route, as well as excel at precise timing. In addition, they must have a good rapport with their quarterbacks to ensure that they are always on the same page. Having strong awareness of the field is also important, as they must know where each defender is at all times in order to effectively run their routes.
Occasionally, the slot receiver is asked to run the ball as well. In this case, the quarterback will often send them in motion before the snap, and then hand off the ball to them or pitch it to them as soon as they’re past the line of scrimmage. This allows the Slot receiver to get to the outside of the defense quickly and avoid being hit by the defensive backs.
Many slot receivers are not only excellent route runners, but are also adept blockers as well. This is especially important on run plays, when the Slot receiver must often pick up blitzes from linebackers and secondary players, and protect the running back or wideout on the outside of the formation. They may also act as a decoy on outside run plays, helping to draw attention away from the main running back and give him more space.