Slot receivers are a type of wide receiver that lines up closer to the center of the field than most other wide receivers. Because of this positioning, they can be used to create open spaces on running plays and pick up blitzes from linebackers or secondary players.
They may also be asked to run the ball from time to time. This can happen on pitch plays, reverses, and end-arounds, which require the quarterback to send them in motion before he snaps the ball.
On these plays, they must move quickly and smoothly. They need to be able to get behind their blockers without getting hit or injured, and they also need to be able to make their way down the field quickly so they can catch the ball before it is snapped.
The receiver’s speed and quickness can help them make a play on a pass, especially when the defenders are covering tight ends or running backs. They can also break a big gainer if they find an open space on the outside of the defense’s front seven.
Despite their short stature, slot receivers have a lot of athleticism. They’re usually faster than their traditional wide receiver counterparts, and can often beat a tackler by running through him or jumping around him in the backfield.
In the NFL, slot receivers are used more than ever before in recent years. Teams like the Buccaneers, Chiefs, Raiders, and Dolphins have all rely heavily on these types of wideouts to help attack different areas of the defense.
They’re also used to pick up blitzes from defensive backs and nickelbacks. They can also play the role of a blocker, particularly on outside running plays. They need to be able to get to the edge of the defense and seal off outside linebackers or nickelbacks with their bodies, so they can allow the running back to get to the ball.
Because they’re so close to the center of the field, slot receivers can also be used as a decoy on passing plays. They’ll run routes that look just like those of other receivers in order to confuse the defense.
Some slot receivers can also be used as fliers, or high-speed receivers. They may be able to catch the ball in the air or get down quickly, and they can often score a touchdown from this position as well.
The slot receiver position has become a staple of many NFL teams, and in the past few seasons, slot receivers have been targeted on nearly 40 percent of pass attempts. This is an increase from the number of passes they’ve received in the past, but it’s still far below what their counterparts were catching in the 1990s and early 2000s.
In addition, slot receivers can be used as big-play targets for the other wide receivers in an offense, helping to take pressure off of them and giving the quarterback more time to throw the ball. They can also act as the lead decoy in a spread or three-receiver formation, which helps to break up some of the defense’s coverage schemes and create more open areas for other receivers.