Slot Receivers in the NFL


A slot is a small gap in an offensive line that usually goes between the outside linemen and the player lined up closest to the sideline, known as the wide receiver. The slot is also used to create formations that utilize multiple potential ball receivers on the same side of the field, such as a three-wide formation or a two-tight end formation.

The term “slot” is derived from the Latin word for groove, but the concept has also been applied to the opening of a hole in a computer processor or a piece of metal that holds letters and postcards in a post office. Unlike the traditional, wider receiver, a slot receiver is short and quick. They often run routes that correspond with other receivers, making it harder for the defense to cover them.

During passing plays, slot receivers may catch the ball on short routes and try to generate mismatches against defensive backs that don’t have quick reactions or a high football IQ. They’re also important blockers on slant runs and sweeps because they’re close to the middle of the field.

In the NFL, slot receivers are used more frequently than ever before, mainly because of their ability to make big plays and their physicality. In recent seasons, they’ve been targeted on nearly 40 percent of passing attempts.

To prevent a slot receiver from being able to run around and get open, teams usually put an extra defensive back in the slot. This additional defender typically lines up inside of a boundary cornerback, and they have to play both press coverage and off-man. The extra defender will pick up any defensive linemen who have broken through the line of scrimmage and help keep the quarterback out of danger.

If a slot receiver gets too open, the defense will move to a nickel-and-dime package. The nickel-and-dime package is a combination of a nickel back and a slot cornerback that is often employed to protect the quarterback in the pocket.

Besides the slot, the nickel-and-dime package also includes an extra defensive back and a safety. This additional defender can protect the slot and the quarterback, and can also provide coverage for an inside linebacker on the opposite side of the field.

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