Entering his third season with the Washington Redskins, Tress Way hopes to be a pillar for a strong special teams unit for years to come.
When Tress Way was waived by the Chicago Bears on Aug. 18, 2014, he couldn't have imagined that less than two years later he'd be signing a five-year contract.
But that's exactly what happened when Way agreed to a five-year deal with the Redskins – the team that picked him up two days later in the summer of 2014 – in March of this year.
"Honestly, the second I got that phone call – my wife and I were sitting on the couch and I started crying. It was like a dream come true for me," Way said. "I could've had just a tender, a one-year deal and so for them to offer up a five-year deal was really, honestly, a dream come true. I want to play my entire career here. I was just ecstatic."
Despite joining the Redskins late in the preseason in 2014, Way won the punter job and was incredibly productive that season, tying for the NFL lead in punt average at 47.5 yards per kick. He also posted a net average of 40 yards per punt, the highest by a Redskins punter in team history since 1976, when the stat began being recorded.
Way was solid again in 2015, averaging 46.1 yards per punt with a net average of 39.8 yards. There was only one punt return for a touchdown allowed by the Redskins last season, and it came in Week 1 when Miami's Jarvis Landry took a kick back. There were no kickoff return touchdowns against the Redskins last season.
Way thinks the special teams units have only gotten better.
"Now, granted, it's only my third year, but it's probably the most excited I've been," Way said. "You look down and we've got guys like Martell Spaight, Houston Bates, Nick [Sundberg] is flying down, covering punts. In preseason right now they're doing an awesome job. We've just got to carry it over into Week 1."
Check out the top photos of Tress Way from the 2015 season.
Prior to Way's arrival, the Redskins allowed four touchdowns on punts (three returns, one blocked punt return) during the 2013 season. Along with Way joining the team in 2014 was new special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica.
Under Kotwica's watch, the Redskins have allowed just four special teams touchdowns in the last two seasons combined.
"Whenever (Kotwica) sits us down on day one he says, 'I'm going to give you the tools to do it and then I'm going to turn you loose,' because we've got the best athletes in the world in the room," Way said. "If you equip these guys with what they need to do – with the schemes – and then cut them loose; I think that's the best way to go. That's why you see everybody playing with such tenacity and so much freedom."
Along with Way is kicker Dustin Hopkins, who the Oklahoma product says "has the strongest leg" he's ever seen in a kicker.
Hopkins is also accurate, as he made 25-of-28 field goal attempts last season. Snapping to Way and Hopkins is Sundberg, the seventh-year long snapper for the Redskins. Way hopes the three of them, who often can be found hanging out off the field, will "be here for a long time."