Slot receivers are a group of players on the football field who specialize in receiving and making something happen in the open field. They are used by teams in a wide variety of situations, such as passing the ball, running a slant, or blocking.
They can line up on either side of the offense, on the inside or outside of the slot. A slot receiver can run the slant, which is a short route that allows them to pick up defenders and make a quick out. In other situations, they can be used as a check-down for the quarterback.
Slot backs are often used in American football as hybrid running backs/receivers. Typically, they replace a tight end or wide receiver.
Slot backs can also be used in an 11-man offense. Most teams have eleven players on the field at once, and slotbacks are used to protect the quarterback, as well as block on running plays.
Players like Tyreek Hill and Branden Cooks can stretch the defense vertically from pure speed. Using slotbacks in place of tight ends or wide receivers is a popular choice.
Many players use slot receivers to run short routes that go directly downfield. These routes are based on a route tree. The quarterback passes to a slot receiver, who runs the route and makes something happen. Other slot receivers are used as outlet receivers.
In the NFL, slot receivers are increasingly playing a more prominent role. While these players are usually used in the passing game, they can also be used to block or sack a defender.