A slot is a narrow opening or slit in a machine or container, for example a hole where a coin can be placed in a slot machine to make it work.
Slot receivers are a crucial part of every offense’s passing game, and they also act as an extra blocker on running plays designed to the outside part of the field. That’s because they line up fairly close to the middle of the field and often need to be able to block defensive positions like nickelbacks, outside linebackers, and safeties.
They don’t deal crushing blocks like the offensive linemen do, but they do need to be able to seal off defenders and make them difficult for the ball carrier to get to. They can also be used for pitch plays, reverses, and end-arounds as ball carriers.
These guys are extremely fast and have great route-running skills. They can run routes that are all over the field, including deep and short. They also have to be able to read the defense and anticipate their positioning on the field.
The slot receiver also needs to be able to understand the game and know how to react accordingly. He must be able to communicate with the quarterback and let him know what he’s thinking. This allows the quarterback to be more effective on the ball.
He also needs to have a good sense of the field and know where to block if needed. He’ll usually block nickelbacks, outside linebackers, safeties, and even some defensive ends on running plays designed to the outside part of field.
A slot receiver can sometimes act as a ball carrier, too. This can happen on pitch plays, reverses, and end-arounds when the quarterback tries to get the ball to him in pre-snap motion.
This pre-snap motion is where the Slot receiver has to be able to find his way to the open space that the quarterback is looking for. This is an important skill to have, because it helps the Slot receiver to be able to find an open area in the backfield where he can avoid being hit.
They can also be used as decoys on certain running plays to help their team out. For example, they can be called into pre-snap motion on pitch plays or reverses and then quickly turn around in the backfield as a runner for their team. This can be an effective strategy that can allow the team to win the ball back from a defensive lineman or another defender who might have caught the ball earlier.
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