Last year, Houston Bates made the progression every NFL hopeful that is overlooked in the winter dreams about.
After his pro day at Louisiana Tech, Bates earned a tryout with the Redskins in the spring and made a big enough impression to be invited to training camp. He made a big enough impression there to earn a spot on the team's practice squad. He made a big enough impression there that midway through the season, Bates was activated to the 53-man roster and stayed there until the season's end.
In a recent Q&A with The News-Star](http://www.thenewsstar.com/story/sports/on-the-sidelines/2016/02/10/q-redskins-lb-houston-bates/80174832/), Bates described his first year in the NFL as a "rollercoaster" but after speaking with veterans on the team, he learned not to get too high or too low, and their words of wisdom eventually helped him through the rigors of the league.
"I enjoyed it. I thought it was fun," Bates said of working on the practice squad. "You don't have much worry. You don't have to worry about your performance in a game. You do, but at the same time you're worried about getting better and working on skills and helping other guys on the team get better. I enjoyed it working everyday against Trent Williams and all those big guys, just getting better and getting them ready for the game. It paid off working on my stuff and showing what I could do every day at practice and hustling around."
Bates finished the 2015 season with three tackles on defense and 10 tackles on special teams, only second to cornerback Deshazor Everett. Bates credits his mom and step-dad and the rest of the people in his "corner" for helping him get to where he is, but said he doesn't like to reflect too much on his past.
"The one thing that helped me prevail was hard work and perseverance," he said. "Without those two things I definitely wouldn't be here. I took a few shots along the way and definitely tried to knock me down but I kept with it and I knew if I went 100 percent it would pay off some time. That's why I'm here.
"I made it. It doesn't matter how you got there. That's what my coaches told me. If you're in the building, you're in the building."
Bates described the importance in working with the community as well as making a big tackle off the edge against the Cowboys. He also seems very grounded in what his responsibilities are in the coming season.
"I'm going to make my money on special teams," Bates said. "Obviously I'll be a defensive guy. I'm a linebacker and I can do whatever they ask me to, but special teams is my niche for sure, and I have no problem with that."