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Mike Holmgren shoots down Cowboys rumors

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Mike Holmgren shoots down Cowboys rumors

BEREA, Ohio (AP) Browns president Mike Holmgren is on his way out. He just hasn't decided where he's going or what he wants to do.

Hoping to squelch a weekend report that he would be interested in coaching the Dallas Cowboys if Jason Garrett gets fired, Holmgren, who may leave the Browns before this season ends, went out of his way Monday to make it known he isn't angling for any job.

Holmgren made an unscheduled appearance in the media room at Browns headquarters to deny he is pursuing a future with the Cowboys. During a farewell news conference on Oct. 23, Holmgren had opened the possibility of a return to coaching.

``I haven't booked my tickets to Dallas,'' joked Holmgren, who spent Cleveland's bye week with his wife, Kathy, in Arizona. ``I haven't talked to a single soul. That's the first thing. The second thing is I honestly don't know what the future holds or what I want to do. Honestly. Believe me on that. Thirdly, I've always been, quite honestly, bothered by the speculation during the season when coaches are trying to work and they're fighting like crazy for their jobs, and I would never do that.

``I would never do that to anybody. I have tremendous respect for obviously Jason Garrett.''

Adding intrigue is that the Browns (2-7) visit the Cowboys (4-5) this week.

On Sunday, Jason LaCanfora of CBSSports.com reported that Holmgren has ``serious interest'' in the Dallas' job if it opened because of a competitive roster, skill players and his relationship with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. The two served together on the NFL's competition committee.

The 64-year-old Holmgren said while he and Jones have remained good friends, he hasn't expressed any interest in them working together again.

``I just wouldn't do that,'' he said. ``So help me with that, please. I'm telling you the way it is. I have no idea how any of that stuff gets started, but I'm telling you the straight scoop on that, OK?''

Holmgren said he has not spoken to his agent, Bob LaMonte, in a month and that he doesn't know where the report started.

``I don't know anything about it, I'm just telling you what I'm saying,'' he said. ``I'm telling you and you got it straight from the horse's mouth.''

Holmgren hopes to remain with the Browns until the end of this season in an advisory role. He was not offered a position under new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, who brought in former Philadelphia President Joe Banner as the club's CEO.

``As long as I feel I can contribute a little bit and helping some of the players and helping the coaches a little bit, Joe (Banner) and I have talked,'' Holmgren said. ``As long as I'm feeling good about a contribution I'll stay, but if I'm not helping that could change, but right now the plan is to be here through the end of the season.''

Holmgren doesn't think the report on any link to the Cowboys will distract the Browns from preparing for this week's game.

``I cannot imagine that,'' he said. ``Why I came down here is that it's everything I don't believe in on a story like that. I wouldn't do that. And I didn't do it. That's why.''

Browns cornerback Joe Haden laughed when he was asked if Holmgren's situation would sidetrack him and his teammates.

``There's nothing that can distract us,'' Haden said. ``We've been through it all.''

Holmgren intends to attend Sunday's game at Cowboy Stadium - but not for an interview.

``Yeah, and I hope to say hello to Jerry (Jones) and those guys,'' he said.

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Key Caps questions: Will the Caps suffer a Stanley Cup hangover?

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USA TODAY Sports

Key Caps questions: Will the Caps suffer a Stanley Cup hangover?

The dog days of summer are officially here, but it's never too hot to talk some hockey.

Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir and Capitals correspondent JJ Regan are here to help you through the offseason doldrums. They will discuss key questions facing the Caps for the upcoming season as Washington prepares to defend its title for the first time in franchise history.

Today's question: Will the Caps suffer a Stanley Cup hangover?

Tarik: The term ‘Stanley Cup Hangover’ exists because, well, it’s a real thing. And the Caps, like all teams that battle into early June, are vulnerable to suffering from it next season.

Why? Think about it. No. 1, the core group just completed the longest season—106 games—of their lives (and, somewhere, the party is still going). No. 2, the top guys aren't exactly a bunch of spring chickens. No. 3, human nature.

A little more on that last one. Alex Ovechkin and Co. have spent the entirety of their professional hockey careers chasing Lord Stanley’s Cup. And now they have it. At long last. Hoisting the Cup was as much a moment to cherish as it was a gigantic relief for a team that had been labeled perennial underachievers. Shifting gears from that feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment back to hunger and determination is difficult.

Something else that worries me a bit? They don’t have experience dealing with a truncated offseason. Rest and recovery matter. And they aren’t going to get much of either this summer.

All that said, they don’t have to stumble through the 2018-19 season. If you're looking at things from the optimist's point of view, the Cup run did something for Ovechkin and his teammates that none of the previous failures could: It showed them EXACTLY what it takes to play deep into the spring.

Eleven out of 12 forwards from the championship squad are expected back. Five of six defensemen and the goalie are returning, as well. Sure, they’ve got a new head coach, but he’s been here for four years already, giving him a huge advantage over a bench boss who’s starting from scratch. So there’s continuity and chemistry already built in.

I look at it like this: The core guys who’ve been around a while—Ovechkin, Backstrom, Carlson, Holtby, etc.—have a rare opportunity before them. After coming up short for so many years, they’ve been gifted an extraordinary chance to make up for lost time over the next 12-24 months. In fact, Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, Backstrom, Oshie, Eller, Carlson, Niskanen, Orlov, Kempny and Holtby have two more years together, as a core, before the next round of tough decisions will need to be made.

But it’s going to be up to them. Are they going to be satisfied with one Cup? Or will they get greedy? I’m betting on the latter.

Regan: The Capitals could enter next season hungry, motivated, in the right mindset, completely prepared in every way to avoid a Cup hangover and it may still happen. Why? Because the Capitals (and Vegas for that matter) will enter next season with less time to rest, recover and prepare after a grueling playoff run than any other team in the NHL.

First things first, no, I do not think the Caps will struggle because they are are partying too hard this summer and won't be ready for the start of the season.

It took a long time Washington to finally reach the top of the mountain. It won't be lost on Alex Ovechkin, or any of the veterans, that the year he came into training camp early and in really good shape, that was the year he was able to lead his team to the promised land. Considering all the struggles, all the early playoff exits, all the years it took to finally win, I expect the veterans will look at how they prepared last season and take that lesson to heart going into camp. Those players will enter the fall in as good a shape as the time they have this offseason will allow them to be.

But this team is not just composed of veterans of the Ovechkin era who suffered through all of those postseason struggles.

What about the youngsters? Will Jakub Vrana have the same motivation as Ovechkin or a Nicklas Backstrom to show up to camp ready next season? What about Chandler Stephenson, Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey? If any of the team's young players aren't exactly in "game shape" by the fall, they won't be the first and they certainly won't be the last to struggle with early career playoff success.

There's also a new head coach to consider. In a lot of ways, I think coming into the season with a new coach in Todd Reirden will help. I don't expect too much adjustment under a coach the team knows very well, but I do expect more motivation at the start of the regular season than you usually see from a team coming off a championship.

There are a lot of reasons why the Caps could actually avoid a Cup hangover, but the fact is that time puts them at a disadvantage. Even if they overcome all the other factors, there's nothing they can do to suddenly give themselves more time to recover and to train. For that reason alone, I do expect a few early-season struggles from the defending champs.

Other key questions

How will the Caps look different under Todd Reirden?

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Ranking the 2018 Redskins Roster: Revealing 31-53

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Ranking the 2018 Redskins Roster: Revealing 31-53

<< Go here to see our ranking of the 2018 Redskins, players 31-53. >>

At NBCSportsWashington.com, we projected the Redskins’ 53-man roster (offensedefense) right after minicamp. Now we are taking it one step further and ranking the 53 players we think will make the team.

The rankings are determined by who we think will have the most impact on the 2018 Redskins. No consideration was given for past performance or for what a particular player might do down the road. We’ll be revealing the rankings between now and the start of training camp. 

Today we’re starting up the list with the players we ranked from 31-53, Here are some of the players in our latest update:

—Seven of the team’s draft picks, including the pick they made last week.     

—All three specialists.

—The team’s leading rusher from 2017.   

Go here to see our ranking of the 2018 Redskins, players 31-53