ARLINGTON, Texas -If forced to describe the Cowboys' offensive line this preseason in one word, "stability" probably wouldn't be the first to come to mind.
Since the beginning of training camp, the starting five has been plagued with injuries, the latest of which to heal was the back injury to starting center Phil Costa.
Costa hurt his back on Aug. 10 and missed the first three preseason games. While he was out, David Arkin filled in as the starting center. Arkin's efforts were admirable considering the taxing number of snaps he took in practices and games this offseason at both center and guard.
However, Arkin is not a natural center and at times it showed. There were botched snaps and quarterback pressures from the interior line.
While Arkin and Tony Romo were attempting to gain chemistry with their snaps, Costa was working to recover from his injury. He was cleared to return to practice last Monday and saw his first game action on Wednesday night against the Dolphins.
Starters are usually held out of the fourth preseason game to avoid any chance of injuries. Costa was the lone starter to play on Wednesday night. The Cowboys felt it was important for Costa to play in one game before the season opener on Sept. 5. In total, he remained in the game for 12 snaps.
"We will go back and look at him play by play, but he looked comfortable out there," head coach Jason Garrett said. "He was probably a calming influence to some guys playing in the game, but it was good to see him get some action."
While it is certainly encouraging for the Cowboys to see Costa return, it would still seem problematic that the starting offensive line has yet to play together in a preseason game. Chemistry is typically considered very important for an offensive line and the Cowboys will have to gain some of that chemistry on the fly, beginning with the front five's first ever practice together, on Saturday.
There won't be any time for an adjustment period as the Cowboys will open the season against the New York Giants and perhaps the best defensive line in the NFL.
For many, the offensive line is one of the biggest question marks coming into this season and perhaps even the key to the team's success.
Costa made his return just in the nick of time.