The Cowboys have played in the Hall of Fame Game four times, with the last appearance coming in 2010, when they earned a 16-7 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
There are some positives and negatives with playing in this game:
It's a chance for the Cowboys and their fans to honor former Cowboys offensive lineman Larry Allen, who will be inducted with the Class of 2013. Former Cowboys coach and Dolphins executive Bill Parcells also is a member of this year's Hall class.
Because they'll now have five preseason games, it'll allow starters to become familiar with the new 4-3 defense. On the offensive side, it'll allow players to get used to a new playcaller (Bill Callahan?), if the Cowboys decide to go that direction.
The Cowboys can now open training camp early because of the Hall of Fame Game. Because you can start at least 15 days before the first preseason game, the Cowboys can kick off camp July 21 in Oxnard, Calif.
Traveling to play in five preseason games can be an emotional and physical drain. The Cowboys most likely will open camp in Oxnard, then travel to Canton for the first preseason game. The Cowboys could then return to Oxnard for another week of camp and play a road preseason game on the West Coast against San Diego, Oakland or even Seattle. After the second preseason game, the Cowboys can break camp and come back to Dallas to finish the rest of the preseason. Lots of airline miles and hotel nights in July and August.
Having that extra preseason game should help some players recovering from injuries to get two or possibly three preseason games of work. Injured players such as Barry Church (Achilles), Jay Ratliff (sports hernia), DeMarcus Ware (shoulder) Sean Lee (toe) and others might not be cleared to participate in the first preseason game but could be ready to go for the second.