A slot is a narrow notch or groove, usually with a fixed width and depth, as in the case of a keyway in machinery or a slit for a coin in a vending machine. A slot may also refer to a position or role, as in the phrase “the slot.” In football, a receiver who lines up closer to the middle of the field than most traditional wide receivers is known as a slot receiver.
A slot receiver typically is smaller and quicker than outside wide receivers, and he must excel at running precise routes. He is often asked to line up a few steps off the line of scrimmage, which gives him more options than outside receivers because he can run routes both inside and out.
On passing plays, a slot receiver is able to help the quarterback with route combinations that can confuse the defense. He is also a critical blocker on running plays in which he isn’t the ball carrier, picking up blitzes from linebackers and secondary players and giving the ball carrier space to run.
Some of the biggest and most productive slot receivers in NFL history are Wayne Chrebet (540.5 career receptions, 9,365 yards, 41 touchdowns), Wes Welker (846 receptions, 8,658 yards, 54 touchdowns), Charlie Joiner (743 receptions, 6,822 yards, 36 touchdowns), and Andre Rison (943 receptions, 10,205 yards, 84 touchdowns). In addition to being great at their craft, these receivers also are excellent leaders and team-oriented players.