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Old 10-12-2007, 10:20 AM   #1
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Default Slots (Receivers) Are Money in the NFL

Excerpts from Dallas Morning News article about the value of slot receivers - it's long, so I'll post the parts relevant to Hines Ward, and a link to the full article at the bottom:

"So the slot is really your quarterback of the wideouts," said Hines Ward, a Pro Bowl wideout who moves inside to the slot for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

That's just the first page of his job description ? figuring out what to do on his presnap read. It gets more complicated for the slot receiver after that. It all hinges on the coverage.

"He's got a lot of reads and a lot of adjustments," Dungy said. "Defenses "are limited in what they can do on outside. But inside there'll be combinations of linebackers, safeties, nickel backs. You get played a lot of different ways."

So a quick thinker is a must in the slot.
Ward estimates he lines up in the slot 25 or 30 percent of the time for the Steelers. He may throw a dozen blocks from the slot on a given Sunday. Blocking is blood and sweat, not speed and finesse.

"I've always said receivers are the toughest guys on your team," Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said. "You say that about receivers in general, then you get a little more specific about that slot guy. Absolutely he's got to be a tough guy."


It takes talent to make plays down the field. But it takes heart to make plays across the middle.

"It's not a position for the faint of heart," Gonzalez said. "At 6-0, 190 pounds, the person hitting me on the inside 99 percent of the time will be bigger than me."

Billick says the best slot receiver he's ever seen was Cris Carter of the Minnesota Vikings. Redskins coach Joe Gibbs says Art Monk was the prototype. But they were starters who moved inside. True slots who excelled in the past include Brian Brennan of the Cleveland Browns and Wayne Chrebet of the New York Jets.

The NFL consensus is that Ward is the best slot receiver in the game today. Amani Toomer, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Derrick Mason, Keenan McCardell and Stokley also were mentioned.

"The slot receiver is almost like a quarterback," said Ward, himself a former college QB at Georgia. "Because as he reads coverages, he has to be on the same page with the quarterback. He's the guy that converts third downs. When you need a play, you depend on your slots to win."
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