Slot Receivers in the NFL
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Slot receivers are becoming more and more essential in today’s NFL. In 1966, the Raiders’ legendary head coach Al Davis coined the phrase “the slot,” referring to the second wide receiver on a team’s offense. Davis wanted his slot receivers to have great hands, excellent route running skills and to be precise with their timing. He also wanted them to have good chemistry with the quarterback, which can lead to some big plays.
In addition to having speed and precision, a good slot receiver should be strong in their blocking. Without the benefit of a fullback or extra tight end to block for them, they are in an especially vulnerable position on running plays. They are often required to block on sweeps and slants, as well as in the hole on inside-outside runs.
Having the ability to read and anticipate is another vital attribute for a good slot receiver. They must be able to recognize which defenders are on their assignment and which are covering other receivers, as well as the timing of each play. Slot receivers also need to be able to run precise routes, which is difficult because they are typically shorter and smaller than outside wide receivers.
Another reason why slot receivers are so important is that they can fill in for running backs and wide receivers on some plays. They can be called into pre-snap motion by the quarterback to act as a receiving threat or to block for running plays like pitch plays, reverses and end-arounds.
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