A slot is a gap in the line of scrimmage, usually slightly behind the line of scrimmage, that takes up the space between an outside offensive lineman (tackle) and a player positioned closest to the sideline, such as a wide receiver or running back. It’s a position that can be utilized to create formations that employ multiple potential ball receivers on the same side of the field, and is often used to take advantage of mismatches downfield.
When a slot receiver lines up in the slot, they’re able to stretch the defense vertically by being able to go past the safety when running a go route, or fly past a secondary when taking a short throw on a slant or quick out. This gives the offense a unique and powerful weapon that can be unleashed often throughout the football game.
Slot receivers are drafted as wide receivers, but earn the title of slot receiver due to their specific skill set that can be utilized throughout the entire football season. These players have a lot of speed, great hands and can use their strength to absorb contact when they catch the ball in the slot area.
They also tend to be able to run with the ball, making them useful in pitch plays and reverses. They’ll often be called into pre-snap motion by the quarterback, which allows them to get a full head of steam behind them before the ball is snapped.
Because of their speed, they can quickly outrun the defense and get into the open field. This is especially true on running plays, when the quarterback will hand them the ball and ask them to run in the direction of their pre-snap motion.
These runners can also be called into the slot for a play where they’re asked to carry the ball like a running back. This can be a big decoy for the rest of the offense’s running plays, as it will give them the opportunity to catch up and make a play in the end zone.
Another common usage of the slot receiver is to pick up blitzes from linebackers or secondary players. This can be a great way to provide protection for the running back or wide receiver on a big play.
The Slot receiver will have to be able to handle the blitzes in order to remain effective, so they’ll need to be a physical force on the ball with great feet. They also need to be able to absorb contact as they catch the ball, as this can help them avoid getting hit by a defender.
Despite the fact that slot receivers can be difficult for a defense to cover, they’re still important to have on the field. This can make it hard for the defense to set up their formations properly, and it can also force them to bring in extra defensive backs or change their current formations in order to account for the additional receiver.