OXNARD, Calif. – Offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Bill Callahan came away pleased with his centers after a major evaluation on Monday. He may have to reevaluate after Tuesday's practice.
The second-team offense could hardly get a play off as botched snaps continued between David Arkin and quarterback Kyle Orton. Harland Gunn also had his struggles snapping, and eventually first-team center Phil Costa was forced to snap on the backup lines.
Callahan said he had thought the problem was fixed.
"This was a concern [Tuesday]," Callahan said. "I was really disappointed because we did a lot of positive things, and it just diminishes all the pluses and all the positives that you do in a practice. Having the ball on the floor is something that is not acceptable. We just don't accept it."
Callahan said it's not up to him to decide if another player needs to be brought in at center. For now, he will continue working with Arkin to develop more consistency.
Arkin hasn't had much time to rest during practice, serving as a backup center and first-team guard as the offensive line nurses back to health. Bill Nagy's high ankle sprain and Kevin Kowalski's ankle tendinitis have them out for the immediate future.
"I will say I'm concerned about those two," said vice president Stephen Jones. "I don't think they'll be available to start the year, more than likely."
Nate Livings is closer to returning from a hamstring injury, and Mackenzy Bernadeau is back at practice for the first time following hip surgery.
Jones also noticed Arkin's struggles snapping Tuesday and said Bernadeau will probably get a chance at center at some point. Bernadeau took center snaps in four preseasons in Carolina, but never in a regular season game.
"We'll see," Jones said. "We'll keep looking at it. We always reserve the right to take another look, but right now we're in good shape."
The Cowboys are taking it slowly with Bernadeau, easing him back into his first practice Tuesday. He said it felt good to be playing with his teammates, going through the playbook and getting his technique down with Callahan.
Bernadeau said he has to do more every day while ensuring he doesn't suffer a setback. He hasn't set a timetable when he thinks he'll return to full strength.
"Right now, I'm just worried about playing guard, and I'm going day-by-day," Bernadeau said before yesterday's afternoon's practice.
Bernadeau didn't play center Tuesday, but Callahan said the former Panther would undoubtedly take snaps at center once he acclimates to his normal guard position.
Callahan wants to wean in Bernadeau, whose surgery kept him sidelined since signing as a free agent in March. That may be more difficult if the football ends up on the ground more often than in Orton's hands.
Callahan said the players and coaches need "to keep the faith and fight through the adversity."
"We take one step forward, we took two steps back," Callahan said. "We've got to get it back on the positive side again."