The Slot receiver gets his name from where he lines up pre-snap on the field, positioning himself between an outside wide receiver and a tight end or offensive tackle. However, the position is a lot more than just that. Slot receivers are a key cog in the offensive machine and have to be excellent at everything from reading coverages to blocking.
The best Slot receivers are incredibly fast and have exceptional route running skills, as they need to be able to run every type of passing routes. Since they tend to be a little shorter and lighter than outside wide receivers, it’s especially important that they can run precise routes. They also need to be able to block, and not just deal crushing blocks like their offensive line counterparts, but also be a good shield for their teammates.
In addition to being a great route runner, the Slot receiver must also be excellent at timing plays. These types of plays can include pitch plays, reverses, and end-arounds, where they will act as the ball carrier for short bursts. They can also be used as a decoy or an extra target for deep routes, giving the offense a good look at defensive coverage.
Slot receivers are also excellent at returning punts and kickoffs, as they need to be able to track the football deep downfield and get open for a big return. This is a huge part of the position, as punts and kickoffs are often used by teams to gain short yards or even score points.
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