Slot Receivers in the NFL
A slot is a narrow opening between the primaries of a bird during flight, to maintain smooth airflow over the wings. The term also refers to the specific space within an airplane for takeoff and landing, as authorized by the airport or air-traffic control authority.
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Slot receivers are important in the passing game because they typically line up inside the defense’s formation. They can run a variety of routes, including in-and-out, vertical, and deep. They are typically shorter and stockier than outside wide receivers, but they need to have great hands and excellent speed. They must be able to run precise routes and have great chemistry with the quarterback.
The slot receiver is an important cog in the offensive blocking wheel, especially on running plays. He usually lines up close to the defensive line, so he needs to be able to block nickelbacks, outside linebackers, and safeties. On running plays, he may need to perform a chip or crack back block on defensive ends.
The slot receiver position has been around for decades, and some players have dominated the role. Wayne Chrebet, for example, racked up an amazing 580 receptions and 7,365 yards over his 11-year career, while Wes Welker recorded 903 receptions and 9,924 yards and scored 41 touchdowns in his 12-year career. Today, the slot position is even more important in the NFL as teams look for ways to maximize their wide receiving corps.