Center Phil Costa left practice on Friday and missed all of Saturday with lower back tightness which is a condition that he has been dealing with during this camp. David Arkin finished the practice for Costa and other than Harland Gunn is the only other healthy center on the roster. This has been a difficult transition for Arkin for the simple reason that he has never played the position before and it is not an easy one to learn. Your center is responsible for so much of how your offensive line functions as a unit. Once the quarterback identify who the Mike linebacker is, the center is responsible for calling out the scheme adjustment to set the protection for the line and backs. The mental side has not been the problem for Arkin but the physical side has.
It's been well documented that Arkin has struggled with the center-quarterback exchange but where Arkin has had his most problems is when he has had to deal with a man right on his nose that uses power against him. Arkin just can't sit down on a rusher like he needs to and at center, he has to worry about snapping the ball, then getting his hand up to try and control his man. Defenders have been able to get into Arkin before he has had a chance to adjust. When you watch Arkin, he tends to get over extended putting all his weight over the tops of his feet and his balance becomes bad. The reason that Arkin does this is that he is trying to lean on the rusher using leverage to stop his charge because he lacks upper body strength.
When an offensive lineman plays over extended, the defender uses that against them. Offensive line play is about power and strength but more importantly it's about balance. When Arkin gets his head down, he plays without balance and he is out of position thus he struggles with his blocks.
I am not trying to make excuses for David Arkin but I feel like he is in a difficult position here. He didn't play at all last season and now he is playing every rep in practice. He is basically a rookie in this situation but that's not a bad thing. There are days where he has looked decent playing at guard but still has a long way to go there but you have to give offensive and defensive linemen a chance to develop.
I really don't see the front office making a move for a center here. As much as I struggle with Phil Costa, the group doesn't share my thoughts. The front office feels that the addition of Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau will help a group that struggled last season handling keeping the front of the pocket clean. Both are bigger bodies and they feel that the added size will help Costa so we will see. As far as making a move for a center off the street? There is no one there they like Josh Brown, Jeff Faine, or Andre Gurode. The scouts are on the road now studying these teams in the pre season, maybe they find someone there like they did Laurent Robinson but until then, they will work with what they have on the current roster.