Slotback, sometimes referred to as an A-back or, especially in the United States, slot receiver, is a position in gridiron football. The "slot" is the area between the last offensive lineman on either side of the center and the wide receiver on that side. A player who lines up between those two players and behind the line of scrimmage is a slotback. The position is a fixture of Canadian football and indoor football, but is also used in American football. The slotback is similar to the wide receiver but also has many of the same traits as a running back or tight end; a slotback lines up closer to the offensive line and often farther back than a wide receiver.

Slotbacks are often as many as five yards behind the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped and, in the Canadian and indoor game, may also make a running start toward the line of scrimmage prior to the snap. In most forms of American football, this would be an illegal motion, although a few professional leagues such as the World Football League and XFL allowed forward motion.

Flexbone Formation
The Slotback (SB) is used in the flexbone formation.

Duties of the slotback

There are a number of different jobs a slotback may take up on the field. Primarily, they are used as hybrid running backs/receivers. However, they are often used to block any player on the defensive team who breaks through the line of scrimmage as a precaution to prevent the sacking of the quarterback. They are preferred over the wide receiver or tight end for receiving short passes or handoffs due to their positioning being closer to the quarterback. When formations containing slotbacks are used in American football the team often has to go without a tight end, a fullback or a running back due to there being only 11 men on the offense and 7 being on the line of scrimmage, one reason they are rarer in the American game. In terms of a depth chart, a slotback is typically considered the third wide receiver and may be expected to be a "possession receiver" that can reliably catch a pass when covered by a safety, since they are most commonly used when converting medium-distance third-down conversions.

Slotbacks are used effectively in flexbone formations, in which they are used as extra receivers.

See also


Positions in American football and Canadian football
Offense (Skill position) Defense Special teams
Linemen Guard, Tackle, Center Linemen Tackle, End Kicking players Placekicker, Punter, Kickoff specialist
Quarterback (Dual-threat, Game manager, System) Linebacker Snapping Long snapper, Holder
Backs Halfback/Tailback (Triple-threat), Fullback, H-back, Wingback Backs Cornerback, Safety, Halfback, Nickelback, Dimeback Returning Punt returner, Kick returner, Jammer, Upman
Receivers Wide receiver (Eligible), Tight end, Slotback, End Tackling Gunner, Upback, Utility
Formations (List)NomenclatureStrategy
Bret Anderson

Bret Anderson (born April 23, 1974) is a former Canadian football placekicker and slotback who played his entire career for the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League.Anderson is 6'3" and 215 lbs. He played 13 years in the CFL, mostly as a slotback and all with the Lions. He went to Simon Fraser University in Burnaby. During that time, he also worked with former Coquitlam Cheetahs track and field coach Percy Perry on developing his running.Bret was drafted in the 4th round, 25th overall by the Lions in the 1997 CFL Draft. Anderson was key to the BC Lions's 2000 Grey Cup win. From 2001 to 2003, he caught 66 passes and had 4 touchdowns as a backup. He played only 5 games in 2004 before retiring to become a firefighter. In 2005, he came back and recorded his longest kick ever on October 16, 2005 against the Montreal Alouettes. The kick was 91 yards long. Anderson got his second Grey Cup ring in 2006.

Bret Anderson works for the Port Coquitlam fire department both during and after the football season. The Coquitlam, British Columbia native has gone through the formality of resigning from the Lions each year since he got on full-time with the PCFD in 2004 (he left the team after five games that season and did not rejoin until 2005).

Anderson did not initially return for the 2009 BC Lions season but was re-signed on October 5, 2009.

Chris Bauman

Chris Bauman (born September 5, 1984) is a Canadian football wide receiver-slotback for the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League (CFL). He was drafted first overall by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 2007 CFL Draft and spent four seasons with the team before joining the Eskimos. He played CIS football for the Regina Rams and was the first player from the University of Regina to be selected first overall in the CFL Draft.

Danny Desriveaux

Danny Desriveaux (born December 20, 1981) is a former professional Canadian football slotback in the Canadian Football League for the Montreal Alouettes and the Toronto Argonauts. He was drafted by the Alouettes in the sixth round of the 2006 CFL Draft with the 43rd overall pick. He played college football for the Richmond Spiders.

Desriveaux holds two university degrees; a bachelor's degree in finance from the University of Connecticut and an MBA from the University of Richmond.

Darrell K. Smith

Darrell Karland Smith (November 5, 1961 – February 13, 2017) was a wide receiver and slotback who played eight seasons in the Canadian Football League, mainly for the Toronto Argonauts. His move to the Edmonton Eskimos in 1993 was a part of the largest trade in CFL history, involving 16 players. Smith played college football at Central State University.

In 1990, he caught a league record of 20 touchdowns.Smith died of cancer on February 13, 2017, aged 55.

Flexbone formation

The flexbone formation is an offensive formation in American football that uses a quarterback, five offensive linemen, three running backs, and varying numbers of tight ends and wide receivers. The flexbone formation is a predominant running formation derived from the wishbone formation and it features a quarterback under center with a fullback lined up directly behind the quarterback. There are two smaller running backs called slotbacks aligned behind the line of scrimmage on each side of the offensive line. The slotbacks are sometimes incorrectly referred to as wingbacks. But in order to be a wingback, there must be a guard, tackle and tight end all on one side of the center on the line of scrimmage and then the wingback off the line of scrimmage (as featured in the unbalanced formation diagram).

Gerald Wilcox

Gerald Wilcox (born July 8, 1966) is a former slotback who played nine seasons in the Canadian Football League for three teams. Wilcox was the winner of the CFL's Most Outstanding Canadian Award in 1994 while playing for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and also was a CFL All-Star that season.


An H-back is an offensive position in American football. The H-back lines up similarly to a tight end, but is "set back" from the line of scrimmage, and is thus counted as one of the four "backs" in the offensive formation. The H-back, while similar in name, should not be confused with "halfback" or "running back", which are used to denote a separate, primary ball-carrying backfield position. The position was made notable in the National Football League (NFL) by the Washington Redskins under head coach Joe Gibbs, who ran a two tight end system. The position was named F-back when used later in Norv Turner's offensive system. The position is similar to that of a slotback.

Halfback (Canadian football)

The halfback in Canadian football, and most commonly the Canadian Football League, currently refers to the defensive back rather than the running back, as in American football. The defensive halfback lines up inside covering the slotback. They are usually slightly larger than the cornerback to assist the linebackers in stopping the run. They can also be seen backing off the line early, to counter the forward motion of a slotback, which is allowed before the snap in the CFL.

The cause of the difference in naming between the two positions between the American and Canadian game, which otherwise uses the same names for positions, stems from the early history of the game. In both games, the early formations featured identical offensive and defensive formations, with seven down linemen and four players (five in Canada) in the backfield. Thus, both the offense and defense had quarterbacks, halfbacks and fullbacks. Over the course of the 20th century, the American and Canadian games both placed an increased emphasis on forward passing, resulting in both offensive and defensive formations spreading out and morphing into modern formations. Furthermore, the abolition of the one-platoon system in the 1940s led to a tendency for position names being used on only one side of the ball. The American game, which still held a significant running component (modern American football is more balanced between both running and passing), kept two running backs, which led to the retention of the "halfback" and "fullback" identifications on that side of the ball.

In Canadian football, however, passing was (and still is) a greater portion of the game (due in part to the larger field and one less down in that game) and only one running back was regularly used, leading to the offensive distinction between halfback and fullback eventually becoming obsolete. Historically, the offensive halfback was similar to a slotback and lined up off the tight end, running sweeps, pass patterns and performing blocking duties, but could also run out of the backfield in front of the fullback, much like a standard running back in American football.

The rough equivalents of the halfback position in American football are the strong safety and nickelback.

J. P. Izquierdo

Jean Paul "J. P." Izquierdo (born March 12, 1969) is a former Canadian football slotback who played seven seasons in the Canadian Football League (CFL) with the Toronto Argonauts, Edmonton Eskimos and Calgary Stampeders. He was drafted by the Toronto Argonauts in the second round of the 1991 CFL Draft. He played CIS football at the University of Calgary and attended Saint Francis High School in Calgary, Alberta. He is the older brother of former CFL player Javier Glatt.

Jamel Richardson

Jamel Richardson (born January 22, 1982 in Syracuse, New York) is a professional Canadian football slotback who is currently a free agent. He recently played for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League. He is most well known for his time with the Montreal Alouettes where he won two Grey Cup championships, including the 98th Grey Cup MVP award. Richardson attended Corcoran High School before he was a two-year All-Foothill Conference in Basketball and All-American in Football at Victor Valley College where he led the state in receptions and yardage.

Jeff Nicklin Memorial Trophy

The Jeff Nicklin Memorial Trophy is a trophy awarded to the Canadian Football League West Division's most outstanding player, chosen from the nominees from each team in the division. Either this trophy winner or the winner of the Terry Evanshen Trophy also receives the Canadian Football League Most Outstanding Player Award.

The Nicklin Memorial Trophy was donated to the Western Interprovincial Football Union in 1946 by the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, in memory of their commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Jeff Nicklin, who was killed in action on March 24, 1945. Jeff Nicklin was known as an outstanding defensive end for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers before he entered military service.

When first donated the trophy was awarded annually to the player in the Western Division considered to be the most valuable to his team. Since 1973, the trophy was awarded to the Most Outstanding Player of the West Division. As part of the failed American expansion in 1995, the trophy was awarded to the Most Outstanding Player of the North Division.

Jim Foley

Jim Foley (born October 27, 1946) is a former award-winning slotback in the Canadian Football League. He was drafted by the Montreal Alouettes in the 1970 CFL College Draft, winning the CFL's Rookie of the Year Award in 1971, and later won the 1975 Most Outstanding Canadian Award and two Grey Cups with the Ottawa Rough Riders.

Nic Demski

Nic Demski (born December 14, 1993) is a Canadian football slotback who plays for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League (CFL).

Paris Jackson (Canadian football)

Paris Jackson (born July 24, 1980) is a professional Canadian football slotback who was most recently a member of the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League. He was originally drafted sixth overall by the BC Lions in the 2003 CFL Draft and signed with the team on August 30, 2003. He played college football for the Utah Utes from 2001 to 2002.

Ray Elgaard

Raymond Elgaard (born August 29, 1959) is a former Canadian Football League slotback for the Saskatchewan Roughriders from 1983 through 1996, including winning the 77th Grey Cup in 1989. A big man, he was noted for his reliability as a receiver and his toughness on the field. He retired as the all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards in the Canadian Football League (830 receptions, 13,198 receiving yards, eight 1,000 yard seasons).

Elgaard played rugby for Magee Secondary School and the Kats, college football at the University of Utah, and now resides in Las Vegas. He was a three-time CFL Most Outstanding Canadian and a four-time CFL All-Star. He is a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and in November, 2006 was voted one of the CFL's Top 50 players (#36) of the league's modern era by Canadian sports network TSN.During the off-season in the mid-1980s, Elgaard was known for waiting tables in the most popular nightclub in Regina, “Checkers” in the south-Regina Landmark Inn. Due to Ray's impressive size, other wait-staff were often seen “drafting” behind Elgaard as he pushed through the crowd while making his rounds.

Rocky Dipietro

Rocky DiPietro (born January 30, 1956) is a former Canadian Football League receiver for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. During his 14-year career as a slotback and wide receiver, DiPietro became the CFL's all-time pass reception leader in 1989 and had a career total of 706 receptions for 9,762 yards and 45 touchdowns. Rocky retired in 1991 after starring in four Grey Cup games, winning it in 1986. He was named to the Tiger-Cats Wall of Honour in 1994, and inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1997. His cousin Paul DiPietro was a member of the 1993 Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup championship team and is now an established star in Switzerland.

After a junior and senior football career in Sault Ste. Marie, Rocky DiPietro went on to a brilliant all-star CFL career. He was inducted into Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1997 after playing for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He retired after the 1991 season with numerous awards and honours, which include: All-Eastern All-Star, All-Canadian All-Star, Most Outstanding Canadian Player Award, Lew Hayman Trophy — Most Outstanding Canadian Player Eastern Division, Grey Cup Participation, Grey Cup Championship Team and the Tiger-cats Walk of Fame.

He is now a high school Learning Strategies/Special Education teacher and coach of the multiple championship winning football team at Lakeshore Catholic High School in Port Colborne, Ontario.

The Bachelor Canada (season 1)

The Bachelor Canada (season 1) is the first season of City reality television series The Bachelor Canada. The season premiered on October 3, 2012. This season features 28-year-old Brad Smith, a former Canadian Football League slotback from Hudson, Quebec.

Tom Campana

Tom Campana (born January 18, 1950) is a former award-winning and all-star slotback who played in the Canadian Football League from 1972 to 1977 with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.A native of Kent, Ohio, and a graduate of his home state Ohio State University, Camapana was part of the Buckeyes' 1970 national championship team. Joining the Green Riders in 1972, he was a CFL Western All-Star and runner-up for rookie of the year (to Chuck Ealey for the CFL's Most Outstanding Rookie Award). He also played in the 64th Grey Cup when the Green Riders lost in the last minute. He finished his career in 1977 having caught 269 passes for 4040 yards, rushed for 554 yards, and scored 30 touchdowns.

Travis Moore

Travis Moore (born August 5, 1970) is a former professional Canadian football slotback and current receivers coach for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League. As a player, Moore played 10 seasons for the Calgary Stampeders and the Saskatchewan Roughriders, winning two Grey Cup championships with the Stampeders in 1998 and 2001. He also played in the one and only XFL season as a wide receiver for the San Francisco Demons team that competed in the league's championship game.

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