The slot receiver position is one of the most versatile positions in football. It has a number of unique skills, including speed and hands, that set it apart from other wide receivers. Often, the slot is called on to do more than just catch passes — they may also be used as blockers on run plays and act as a running back from time to time.
The history of slot
Al Davis, an assistant coach for the Oakland Raiders in 1963, introduced a strategy that would become known as the “Slot” formation. He wanted his wide receivers to have lots of speed, great hands, and to be precise with their routes and timing.
This technique allowed the Raiders to attack three levels of defense: line of scrimmage, linebackers, and secondary. As a result, the slot position has become a staple in modern NFL offenses.
The best slot receivers are able to stretch the defense vertically off pure speed, but can also play in the catch and run game, running shorter routes that correspond with other receivers. This gives them the ability to confuse defenders and gain yards in different ways, while also giving the quarterback the opportunity to throw the ball to different players.
In addition to catching the ball, Slot receivers are often used as blockers on running plays, particularly on sweeps and slants. They are lined up relatively close to the middle of the field, and their initial blocking after the snap is crucial to the success of these runs.
They are also used to block nickelbacks and other outside linebackers, or even safeties. They can perform a “crack back block” on defensive ends, and they are especially important on running plays designed to the outside part of the field.
To be a good slot receiver, players must be fast, have excellent hands, and have the ability to run precise routes. They also need to be able to handle contact, as they’ll be in a place on the field that is often vulnerable to big hits.
Many slot receivers are smaller than outside receivers, and so they must be able to make big catches in difficult areas. They must also have the strength to carry the ball and run with it, a task that is especially critical on pitch plays, reverses, and end-arounds.
The slot receiver’s position has changed a lot in recent years, but it is still a very popular one. Several great slot receivers have played in the NFL, including Wayne Chrebet, Wes Welker, Charlie Joiner, Julian Edelman, and Andre Rison.
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