Slot receivers are a key part of the modern game. They can help quarterbacks stretch the field and attack the outside portions of the defense by taking on the role of a wide receiver in passing situations, while also providing an extra blocker for running plays. The rise of offenses that run three-wide sets has led to more Slot receiver usage in recent years, with many teams relying on them for more than just the occasional catch.
Slots are not the only receivers that can play this position, but they do have specific skills and traits that make them better than other wide receivers. Aside from being able to run routes, slot receivers must be quick and have a high level of chemistry with the quarterback.
Roles of a Slot Receiver
A slot receiver’s primary job is to be the lead receiver on passing plays. They’re usually called into pre-snap motion before the ball is snapped, and they need to make sure they’re positioned correctly for a successful catch. They also need to be able to read the coverage of the defense and anticipate what they can expect.
A slot receiver typically runs a variety of routes to keep the defense guessing, and they need to be able to pick up their blocks well. This requires a lot of practice, but they can become highly skilled at it over time.
Chemistry with the QB
A good slot receiver will have a great relationship with their quarterback, and this helps them run better routes. They should also be able to read the coverage of the defensive backs and know when to use their speed to their advantage.
Slots can also be used to carry the ball from time to time, especially on pitch plays and reverses. This gives them a head start on their opponent and allows the quarterback to get the ball to their hands quickly.
When a Slot receiver is called into pre-snap motion, they’re usually lined up between the offensive tackle and the wing-wide receiver at the last man on the line of scrimmage. This makes them a crucial part of the blocking game because they’re lining up close to where the defensive players are.
They may need to chip and block nickelbacks, outside linebackers, and safeties. They can also be used to do a crack back block on defensive ends.
Using a Slot to Carry the Ball
Because of their alignment and pre-snap motion, Slot receivers can often carry the ball like a running back on certain running plays. This can be especially important on reverses and end-arounds. When they’re able to do this, they can be a huge decoy for their team. It’s also a great way for an offense to try out new ways to run the ball.