OAKLAND, Calif. -- There were no bad snaps. And nothing went over the quarterback's head.
In those terms, at least, the Dallas Cowboys' preseason opener Monday night against the Oakland Raiders was a success.
Backup center David Arkin, playing because of the back injury to Phil Costa, went three-plus quarters without a hitch.
Blocking-wise? That's another story. The Cowboys will get to it later.
For now, as they return to Oxnard for today's practice -- the first of three to wrap up training camp -- they will tap Arkin on the helmet and hope Costa is ready to work again after four days off to rest his back.
"That was definitely the big thing tonight. Just getting all the snaps right," Arkin said. "That's a huge credit to the three quarterbacks I played with."
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said last week amid the dropped exchanges and high shotgun snaps that the center and quarterback should generally accept equal blame.
But there was no doubt he was critically watching Arkin's performance.
"The big concern we had for him was taking care of the ball," Garrett said. "The nightmare scenario was we have four snaps on the ground, snap it over the quarterback's head in the shotgun. None of that happened, so that was a positive thing."
Veteran guard Derrick Dockery said the same thing of Arkin, who spent all of last season on the sideline. Arkin, a fourth-round pick in 2011, was inactive for all 16 games last season as the Cowboys put him to work in the weight room.
"I was really happy for Arkin," Dockery said. "Tonight was an opportunity for him. There were no balls on the ground. He competed. Now, he's got to go back and see where he can correct his technique and get better."
That would help the Cowboys' offense, which Garrett said had no rhythm in the first half.
With Arkin in charge at center, the Cowboys produced only 13 yards in the first quarter and 81 by halftime. Tony Romo was sacked, and Raiders defenders came into the backfield twice unopposed. On a screen, Arkin failed to chip his man before getting out in the open to block.
"We've just got to get the communication going there," Arkin said of the sack of Romo. "That wasn't a physical thing. It was a communication thing. We've got to get that straightened out."
"The sack on the screen coming out was a misidentification from him coming out to let that guy come right up the middle clean on Tony," Garrett said. "For the most part he competed well. The fact that we didn't have a ball on the ground was an important thing for us."
Arkin stayed in for the third quarter, playing with Dockery at left guard and rookie Ronald Leary at right guard. That unit helped backup quarterback Kyle Orton direct the Cowboys on an eight-minute drive for the game's only points, a 33-yard field goal by Dan Bailey.
"He did real good. He did a great job," Leary said of Arkin, who finally gave way in the fourth quarter to Harland Gunn at center. "He did his job. I talked to him for a minute. He was ready. I could tell early on he was ready to play a good game, and he did."
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones expressed little displeasure with the offensive line. He said he got it straight from an offensive line expert that good things were happening.
"I had a chance to sit there with John Madden and watch the offensive linemen in the second half," Jones said.
"That's his specialty, and what I like to look at. We saw some of our guys doing some good things. [Jermey] Parnell did good, of course. [Tyron] Smith is good, but he didn't play in the second half. Parnell did good. Leary did some good things in there. But Parnell particularly impressed me."
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407