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Inside Tress Way's Advice To Camaron Cheeseman

Camaron Cheeseman talks with Dustin Hopkins and Tress Way before practice. (Emilee Fails/Washington Football Team)
Camaron Cheeseman talks with Dustin Hopkins and Tress Way before practice. (Emilee Fails/Washington Football Team)

Tress Way isn't normally one to make rookies carry his pads, but since he had his first, and possibly only, opportunity with Camaron Cheeseman, he figured he might as well take advantage of it while he can.

"I felt like such a jerk," Way said. "But I'll tell you, that week of walking back up to the facility where I didn't have to carry anything and my pads were brought to my locker, I was like, 'All right, I get it."

There's a lot of new territory Way is having to cross with Cheeseman. For the first time in his career, he's the one having to mentor a young player as they get acclimated to the NFL. For the most part, he's using the same advice that Nick Sundberg gave him in 2014: do what you need to help your teammates, but also make sure you're ready for gamedays.

"I'm going to tell you what I need from you," Sundberg told Way. "And then other than that, you have to be selfish in a way that gets yourself prepared."

There aren't many big details that Way has to stress on Cheeseman. He can snap the cover off the ball, Way said, so he knows he can handle himself from a performance standpoint. A lot of it involves the regular points of the routine he and Dustin Hopkins have established for years, such as their pregame routine.

All the while, Cheeseman's biggest question is always, "What's next?" It makes him think back to when he would pepper Sundberg with questions. He's having to explain things that he simply doesn't talk about often because he, Hopkins and Sundberg had been together for so long.

"It's been good in the game," Way said, "because practice is totally different...than in the game, particularly in the locker room, coming out for warmups and things like that. It's all of the little details before we go on the field. Just been catching him up to speed on how we do things."

Way, Cheeseman and Hopkins are working on building up their synergy. The connection all three of them have during field goal kicks, for example, might sound as simple as Cheeseman snapping the ball back to Way and Hopkins kicking it, but it's actually more complicated than that. Way said every snapper and holder have their own connection, and for him and Cheeseman, the key is when Way turns his head and the cadence for when Way moves his hand.

It's the first time Cheeseman is experiencing many of these new tendencies, especially in game situations, when the atmosphere is different from practice. With that being said, Cheeseman has been taking everything in stride.

"He's doing awesome, and practice has been going great," Way said. "And so it honestly is just one of those things where it brought some things to light and we've been hammering it out this week."

It's certainly a lot of new information to digest, but Way doesn't want Cheeseman to sacrifice that in favor of what he needs to do to be ready for games. One of the ways that Way gets ready for punts is by catching snaps on the sideline; he calls it "playing catch." But that doesn't mean he wants to wear Cheeseman's arm out, either.

"I don't want [him] to get tired if he has any...rep counts that he has to himself," Way said. "I don't want to mess that up."

Way even joked that Cheeseman could just pass the ball to him underhanded if that's what it took, but the point remains the same: he wants Cheeseman to do what he needs to do to get himself comfortable.

"We're playing a team game, but you getting prepared on the sideline [with] your routines or drills that you have to do, you have to be selfish in what gets you ready."

There's a rhythm and feel that comes with being a long snapper, and as Cheeseman progresses through his rookie season, it's important for him to get a feel for those tendencies. That involves a kind of balancing act; he'll need to make sure he's doing what Way and Hopkins need from him, but not at the detriment of taking care of himself.

"And then ultimately," Way said, "we can go take care of business."