The Cowboys' offensive line has long been a picture of stability. Generally, stability is a good thing. It shows a consistently high level of play which encourages team management not to make changes.
But recently, that stability turned to erosion.
An NFL player's prime is very short. In many cases, there's no way to rebound once they hit the wall.
America's Team showcased a cohesive, veteran unit -- but one which, frankly, collapsed like an old, weathered piece of wood during parts of last year.
There were definitely positives on the line; Doug Free was a revelation at left tackle, Kyle Kosier and Andre Gurode were better than average. But Marc Colombo was among the worst linemen in the NFL last year and the Leonard Davis/Montrae Holland rotation at right guard was mediocre.
Colombo and Davis were released, saving the team between five and eight million dollars this year (depending on which capologists you believe).
While Smith is penciled in as the starting right tackle, Arkin's role is less definite. Montrae Holland was regarded as the favorite going into camp, but showed up overweight and is now dealing with back issues.
Meanwhile, Arkin has impressed during his limited exposure, showing good lateral movement, a mean streak and a higher degree of readiness than most expected out of a player taken from Missouri State University.
On the most recent edition of Dale Hansen's Sports Special, former NFL scout Bryan Broaddussaid he was impressed with Arkin, who showed him more than the precocious Smith in Thursday's matchup with the Denver Broncos.
On the other hand, the Cowboys don't consider themselves a rebuilding team. Holland has proven in the past that he's fairly reliable and won't make any major mistakes, a tough thing to attribute to a rookie from a weak college conference.
As of right now, Arkin has probably edged ahead due to Holland's physical issues. But nothing's set in stone. The two will continue battling for the right to suit up at left guard next to Doug Free -- and don't expect a decision until late in training camp.