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Slot Receiver Skills and Abilities


A slot is a narrow opening in a machine, usually used to take coins or other objects. It can also be a place in a schedule or program that an activity can take place. For example, a visitor can book a time slot for a museum tour. The term slots is also used in aviation to describe the authorizations that allow aircraft to land or take off at a particular airport during a specific time period.

A Slot receiver gets his name from where he lines up pre-snap, between the last man on the line of scrimmage (often either the tight end or offensive tackle) and one of the outside wide receivers. This relatively small area of the field allows them to block and run routes like the outside receivers, but with some additional responsibilities.

The Slot position isn’t just about being in the right spot on the field, it requires a unique set of skills and abilities to succeed. First and foremost, they need to be able to read the defense. Knowing where defenders are on the field is crucial to route running and timing plays. Then they need to be able to effectively block them, particularly in the running game. This includes being able to chip block on nickelbacks, outside linebackers, and safeties, as well as performing a crack back block on defensive ends.

They also need to be fast enough to catch the ball and get to the open field, especially on a quick pass or a deep out from the Slot. They must be able to break down the coverage and find open space, even when the quarterback is scrambling.

Another important skill for Slot receivers is their knowledge of the passing game. They must be able to read the quarterback and adjust their route running based on what the quarterback wants them to do. This requires a great deal of practice and is the primary reason why Slot receivers aren’t often drafted in the NFL.

Finally, Slot receivers need to be able to play some running back responsibilities as well. This is most common on pitch plays, reverses, and end-arounds, and it’s a way for the offense to avoid burning out their top outside receivers. During these running plays, the Slot receiver will be called into pre-snap motion by the quarterback and then be expected to make his way behind the other two wide receivers. They will need to be able to block — and sometimes carry the ball as well — in order to create holes for their teammates.

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