A slot is the second wide receiver on a team’s formation, generally positioned to the outside of the left hash mark. This positioning was popularized by the Oakland Raiders under head coach Al Davis, who sought out fast, agile receivers with great hands and precise routes. He also wanted these players to have good chemistry with the quarterback and a knack for understanding coverage patterns. These criteria led to the development of what we now know as the slot position.
The slot is a crucial component to any offensive play, as it allows the receiving team to gain an advantageous position on the field, giving them more room to run routes and catch passes. The position is also important for blocking, as it protects the ball carrier from blitzes from linebackers and secondary players. On running plays, the slot is a key blocker on both outside and slant runs.
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A slot is also a name for a narrow notch or groove, such as a keyway in machinery or a slit for a coin in a vending machine. The term is also used to refer to a position in a group, series, or sequence, such as a job or an assignment. Finally, the slot is also a reference to an area of the ice hockey rink, which is the unmarked space between the face-off circles. The term was probably inspired by electromechanical slot machines’ tilt switches, which would make or break a circuit to signal a problem.