A slot is a narrow opening in a machine or container, for example the hole that you put coins into to make a machine work. It can also refer to a position on a schedule or program, for example you may have a time slot booked for your trip to the airport.
The Slot receiver is a vital cog in the offensive playbook, as they can be used in multiple ways to attack the defense. They are usually a little shorter and smaller than outside wide receivers, but have top-notch route running skills and speed to match. They can run routes to the inside or outside, deep or short. And they also serve as an effective blocking receiver on running plays, picking up blitzes and sealing off the defensive ends to give the RB more space.
A Slot receiver is often called into pre-snap motion by the quarterback, and must be able to quickly find open space on the field. They can also act as a ball carrier on some running plays like pitch plays and reverses, with the quarterback handing off or pitching the ball to them after they’re in pre-snap motion. They need to be able to move quickly on these plays and not be caught off guard by defenders who are closing in. They also need to have advanced blocking ability, especially compared to outside receivers. This is because they are often asked to block defensive backs and safeties.