Tress Way wasn't even on the Redskins' roster until midway through the preseason, but he turned in one of the team's better punting performances in recent memory in Sunday's 2014 season opener vs. the Houston Texans.
Way finished with an average of 49.2 yards on five punts, the Redskins' highest single-game punting average since Hunter Smith averaged 50 yards on six punts vs. the Philadelphia Eagles in November 2010.
Way – signed by the team in the week leading up to its third preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens – said veteran Redskins defensive players DeAngelo Hall and Ryan Clark pulled him aside last week after he had some solid kicks in practice, giving him plenty of confidence going into his regular-season debut.
"They said keep hitting the ball like that, just flip the field for us and we are going to play defense," Way said. "They did a great job."
Way set the tone early in Sunday's game, booting his first punt – which was his first-ever regular-season kick in the NFL – 61 yards, the longest Redskins punt since Week 4 of the 2012 season, when then-punter Sav Rocca also had a 61-yarder against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Way, a lefty punter who had a previous offseason stint with the Chicago Bears, said he's already built solid chemistry with veteran Redskins long snapper Nick Sundberg and his other teammates.
"Nick did a great job firing it back to me – just straight on the hip all day," Way said. "The way I've been punting in practice, the guys have been on the sidelines getting fired up and yelling, 'Hey, save those for the game,' and stuff like that, so I love it here."
Way, an Oklahoma product, also had the chance to experience some early adversity through his dual role as the team's punter and holder Sunday against the Texans.
After the Redskins took an early 6-0 lead on a Darrel Young 1-yard touchdown run, the Texans' J.J. Watt blocked the ensuing extra point.
Then, in the second quarter, Way's punt was blocked by Houston's Alfred Blue, who scooped up the ball and ran into the end zone for a touchdown, giving his team a 14-6 lead going into halftime.
"Honestly, he could have picked it out of my hand instead of blocking it, but give credit to that guy – he did a great job," Way said. "I will get back and check my operation time to make sure that I wasn't too slow (on the punt attempt)."
Way said he has confidence that the special teams issues in Sunday's game will not be a common problem throughout the season.
He said he saw promise in other special teams areas Sunday, such as returner Andre Roberts, who returned two punts for 36 yards and two kickoffs for 56 yards.
"It's so close, and I know that is probably the most frustrating part," Way said. "But the good news is that we are that close to just busting it wide open and really changing the game.
"Special teams could have been huge tonight, putting points on the board and keeping the field position battle going," Way continued. "So we've just got to keep working to get better every week. That's what the coaches always stress."