Slot receivers are wide receivers that line up slightly off the line of scrimmage, often lined up between the offensive line and another wideout. This allows them to do more than just receive the ball – they can also run, block, and be used as a decoy in some plays.
They are often called on to carry the ball from time to time, especially on pitch and reverse plays, and end-arounds. They are able to act as an effective running decoy for the rest of the offense because they are fast and have excellent pre-snap motion.
Because they line up so close to the center of the field, their initial blocking is more important than it would be for a more traditional outside receiver. As a result, they often need to be able to deal with blitzes from the defensive backs and nickelbacks. They also must be able to seal off the edge and avoid a sack by a secondary player.
They can also be very versatile in what they do, as they can line up at various times throughout the game depending on what the quarterback is asking them to do. Some will catch short passes or pass behind the line of scrimmage, while others will be called on to block for the running back or wide receiver.
Their speed makes them perfect for running the football on pitch and reverse plays, and they can be called on to catch a ball in the open field as well. This helps them outrun defenders while giving the rest of the offense an extra receiver in the middle of the field.
Slot receivers have a strong track record in the NFL, with many of them being named first-team All-Pro. The slot position is a great fit for players who have good hands and are very fast.
The best slot receivers are hardy and strong enough to withstand contact on the ground. They can also make quick and efficient reads to catch the ball. They are also able to be a big target for the quarterback on passing downs, and can be effective in coverage against both man and zone defenses.
They can also be a key part of the blocking game, as they will often be lined up near the center of the field and need to perform a crack back block on defensive ends on running plays that are designed for the outside. This can allow the RB or wide receiver to have more space and get a bigger gain, which is important in the running game.
When the play is over, slot receivers can be called on to line up in the backfield to receive a pass from the quarterback. The slot receiver can then move up or down the field to take advantage of a defender’s weakness.
The slot receiver can also be called on to do other things on the field, such as pick up blitzes from the defense or provide blocking for the wideout or running back on outside runs. They are sometimes paired up with a linebacker for this purpose, and they can even be called on to block in the backfield during passing downs, as well.