Calvin Watkins' practice report

OXNARD, Calif. -- The center position can only get better. It certainly can't get any worse.

David Arkin is a guard trying to play center and has had mixed results. Harland Gunn is still learning and, by the way, starter Phil Costa (who strained his lower back Friday) is inconsistent. The Cowboys don't like anybody on the free agent market and are open to giving guard Mackenzy Bernadeau some center snaps next week. Just madness.

Here are some more thoughts from Friday's practice:

*It was good to see nose tackle Jay Ratliff getting snaps with the first team in full pads. The Cowboys value Ratliff's ability to beat double-teams and overpower centers in single coverage. Ratliff is an excellent defender and the Cowboys medical staff is being cautious as he deals with his plantar fasciitis. If he feels better he'll gets more snaps in practice. If not, he'll wait it out. Coach Jason Garrett wants to get Ratliff into a few preseason games.

*Derrick Dockery was getting some first-team snaps at left guard Friday afternoon and looked good. Dockery moved well inside and displayed the power the Cowboys are looking for at that position. With Costa having back issues, it wouldn't be surprising if Dockery started Monday at Oakland.

*There were two bad dropped passes. Donovan Kemp, a long shot to make the team, dropped a would-be touchdown pass after beating Teddy Williams, and Raymond Radway lost another one. After Radway dropped his pass along the sidelines he yanked his helmet off and angrily walked away.

*C.J. Wilson is having a pretty good camp. Rob Ryan said it's hard to decide how many corners the team will keep, but Wilson did nice job breaking up passes. One of his best plays was forcing Kevin Ogletree to drop a pass.

*The backup wide receivers had an uneven day of practice. There were the dropped passes from Kemp and Radway, but ther was also a nice touchdown reception from Dwayne Harris in the back of the end zone. Cole Beasley continues to improve by making tough and easy catches. Whoever is the No. 3 receiver, it will be someone who earned it the hard way.

*It seems the Cowboys will keep three running backs: DeMarco Murray, Felix Jones and Phillip Tanner. Yet, keeping a running back for the practice squad is an issue. Ed Wesley didn't do himself any favors when he fumbled a handoff during a run drill. But Jamize Olawale continued to impress with some hard running. He does run too high, and it's something he said he needs to fix.

*DeMarcus Ware is a dangerous player. Always. He beat Tyron Smith on 11-on-11 drills in consecutive plays. He beat Smith with a swim move, forcing Romo to dump a pass to Jones in the flat.

*Dan Bailey has been very good in training camp. But after making a 38-yarder, he had a 47-yard attempt blocked by Orlando Scandrick and then missed from 55 yards.

*Scandrick was pretty feisty. He tipped a ball off the facemask of Harris, almost creamed John Hanna -- later on he flung him to the ground after a catch -- and broke up a pass intended for Ogletree.