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A slot is a narrow notch, groove, or opening, as in a keyway in a piece of machinery or a slit for a coin in a vending machine. It can also be an opening or a hole in the middle of a wheel of a musical instrument, a cylinder that contains water, or a gap or space between the wings of an airplane.
In football, a slot receiver is a wide receiver who lines up in the center of the field, often near the defensive line. He’s typically a little shorter and stockier than outside wide receivers, but his speed and route-running skills allow him to be extremely versatile on the field. He can be used to run many different passing routes, including to the inside and outside, as well as deep and short passes.
He’s also a crucial part of the blocking game, as he can block nickelbacks, outside linebackers, and safeties. His pre-snap motion and his speed allow him to be a big decoy for running plays, too.
Slot receivers are a valuable part of any NFL team’s offense because of their versatility, speed, and hands. Despite their smaller stature, they can often be more productive than the number two and number one receivers on their team.
They’re very fast and have great hands, which helps them absorb a lot of contact when catching the ball in the slot. They’re very good at route-running and can run tight routes that most outside wideouts can’t do.
Because they’re lining up so close to the center of the field, they need to be very accurate with their routes. This helps them open up holes for the rest of the offense to use.
The slot receiver is often a key component of a successful running play, as he’s able to seal off the outside portion of the field and help the quarterback get the ball downfield quickly. He’ll need to be able to block in the backfield, too, when the quarterback runs certain pitch plays, reverses, and end-arounds.
A slot receiver can also act as a ball carrier from time to time, especially when the quarterback is playing the run or has a strong runner in front of him. He’ll be called into pre-snap motion by the quarterback and will be able to run behind him.