The slot (pronounced slaht) is the position in the football team that lines up slightly in front of the wide receivers, behind the tight ends and offensive tackles. The position gets its name because of the pre-snap alignment, which is different than that of the outside receivers. This gives the Slot receiver a unique role in both pass and run protections.
The Slot receiver will be responsible for blocking defensive backs, outside linebackers and safeties. This will typically require him to chip, or block the outside shoulder of the defender. On running plays designed to the outside, he will also need to perform a crack back block against defensive ends.
In addition to a strong understanding of the pass routes and run/pass options that are available to him, a Slot receiver will need to understand how his pre-snap alignment affects his route combinations with his outside receiver teammates. The Slot receiver must be able to communicate with his outside receivers and help them gain a better understanding of where the ball will be placed in the air, and what adjustments they will need to make.
A Slot receiver’s pre-snap alignment will dictate many of his strengths and weaknesses, as well as the type of blocking he will need to be successful. For example, if the offense runs a lot of running plays that are designed to the outside, the Slot receiver will need to be able to block nickelbacks and safetys effectively.
On passing plays, the Slot receiver will be expected to mirror the outside receivers and get open for a high percentage of passes. In order to do this, he will need to have excellent footwork and be able to quickly adjust to the timing of the passing game.
The Slot is an important position for any offense, but it is not without its challenges. The main concern is to find a balance between the demands of the position and the ability of the individual to perform at an elite level. In addition, the Slot must be a reliable player in both pass and run protection, as well as in coverage.
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