Slot receivers are a versatile and important part of any NFL team’s passing offense. They’re a key player in the game because they allow quarterbacks to stretch out the field, attack all three levels of the defense, and give the offense an extra blocker when running the ball outside.
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The Role of the Slot Receiver
When the quarterback is throwing the ball, he typically looks to the slot receiver first for his quick hands and speedy skills. They’re a little smaller and shorter than outside wide receivers, so they need to be able to run just about any route that the quarterback wants them to run. This includes the inside and outside, deep, and short passes.
Unlike outside receivers, they don’t have to deal with crushing blocks like offensive linemen do, but they still need to be able to position themselves well enough to seal off the outside. This can be especially true when the defense tries to open up a running play by bringing down one of the offensive linemen.
The routes they run
Slot receivers need to be able to run just about every route the quarterback may throw, including pitches, reverses, and end-arounds. They can be called into pre-snap motion for these types of plays, so they need to be able to move fast and have great timing on the ball.
How a Slot Receiver Is Different from an Outside Wideout
The slot receiver has many different things in common with an outside wideout, but they also have a few things that set them apart. For starters, they’re a little bit shorter and thinner than outside receivers, so they need to be a little faster in order to have the ability to break away from defenders and get downfield.
They need to be able to get open quickly and have good hands, but they also need to be able to run precise routes because of where they’re lined up on the field. Because they’re in the slot, they have a lot of space to run these routes, so they should be able to catch passes from all angles.
They can also be a great option on pitch plays and reverses, as they can run in the open like a running back from time to time. But it’s important to remember that they aren’t the ball carrier, so they shouldn’t be expected to run all of the way to the line.