A slot receiver is a wide receiver who lines up just a few steps off the line of scrimmage. They are also called “slotbacks” or just “backs.” This is a wide position that has been more and more important in recent NFL seasons.
They are an excellent receiving option, especially in pass-heavy offenses. They are short, fast and agile. Their pre-snap alignment dictates what they will do, and it is important for them to be able to quickly get out of their stance to catch the ball.
Their ability to run in the open is also key to their success on offense. They can often be the primary ball carrier for pitches and reverses, and they are a great option for end-arounds. Their speed allows them to make up lost ground quickly and to elude defenders.
These players are a valuable part of an offense’s blocking game, too. They will typically line up behind the offensive linemen, and because of their alignment and the defensive positions they are near, they have a lot of opportunities to block and chip nickelbacks, outside linebackers and safeties.
In running plays, the Slot receiver’s initial blocking after the snap is more important to a team’s success than that of an outside receiver. He can seal off the outside, which is especially important on running plays designed to target the outside of the defense.
He may be the only player able to open up the middle of the field on some passing plays. He can help draw the defensive backs out of their stance, giving other receivers more room to attack the middle of the field.
The slot position is also an excellent choice for quick receivers who want to get out of their stance fast. This helps them catch the ball in the air and avoid blitzing and tagging up defenders on the outside.
Some Slot receivers are capable of carrying the ball, too. They will often be called to run out of their stance on pitch plays, reverses and end-arounds. The quarterback will snap the ball and try to get it away before the Slot receiver makes a move.
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