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Thursday Sports Briefs

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Peyton Manning has received the OK from his surgeon to start taking hits again.

A spokesman for Dr. Robert Watkins said in a one-paragraph email sent late Thursday night that the Indianapolis Colts star was cleared to play.

The Colts contend that is nothing new because Manning was cleared to practice in December, a move that also would have allowed the quarterback to begin playing again. But it backs up Manning’s contention from earlier this week that his recovery from September neck surgery is on schedule.

Colts owner Jim Irsay responded to Watkins’ statement by writing on Twitter that Manning has not been cleared to play by the club because he has not passed a team physical. He said the Colts would issue a statement later Friday.

Rob Gronkowski practiced with the New England Patriots in preparation for the Super Bowl for the first time. Now coach Bill Belichick is waiting to see how the All-Pro tight end’s injured ankle responds.

Gronkowski participated on a limited basis and said it will be up to him to decide whether his high left ankle sprain will allow him to play Sunday against the New York Giants. He was injured Jan. 22 in the third quarter of a 23-20 win over Baltimore in the AFC championship game.

Commissioner Roger Goodell says if the NFL puts a team in Los Angeles, it is probable the league would expand by two to 34 franchises. Appearing on “Costas Live” on NBC Sports Network, Goodell said the league doesn’t want to move any current teams.

The Colts hired Greg Manusky as defensive coordinator.

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Green Bay Packers hired Tom Clements as their new offensive coordinator. Clements has been the Packers’ quarterbacks coach since 2006. He replaces Joe Philbin, who left Green Bay to become the Miami Dolphins’ head coach.

BASEBALL

DALLAS (AP) — Texas Rangers outfielder and recovering drug addict Josh Hamilton had a relapse this week when he drank alcohol at a bar, The Dallas Morning News reported.

The newspaper, citing unidentified “individuals familiar with the episode,” reported Hamilton was drinking at a Dallas-area bar on Monday. In a statement to the newspaper, the Rangers said they were “aware of a situation,” but did not have any further comment.

The 30-year-old Hamilton was suspended for more than three years for drug and alcohol use while in the Tampa Bay organization. He missed the entire 2004 and 2005 seasons. He won the AL MVP in 2010.

This was Hamilton’s second known alcohol-related relapse in three years. In January, 2009, he drank to excess in a bar in Tempe, Ariz. Before that, Hamilton said he hadn’t taken a drink of alcohol since Oct. 6, 2005.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Edwin Jackson agreed to a one-year contract with Washington, a deal that gives the Nationals seven potential starting pitchers. The team said the agreement is pending a physical. The deal is worth in the range of $9 million to $12 million.

NEW YORK (AP) — A woman stalked and shook down New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, getting him to pay her $6,000 and demanding more by threatening to harm his reputation, prosecutors said.

Louise Neathway, 36, was arraigned on grand larceny, stalking and harassment charges. Her lawyers said Cashman had had an inappropriate relationship with Neathway, a medical sales worker and single mother of a 14-year-old daughter, and he turned on her when it ended badly.

Neathway’s lawyers, Stephen G. McCarthy and Alan M. Abramson, said their client denied the allegations.

Cashman said through spokesman Chris Giglio that he is very grateful the matter is in the hands of law enforcement. The Yankees declined to comment.

PRO BASKETBALL

NEW YORK (AP) — Blake Griffin and Andrew Bynum were voted to the All-Star game, joining Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul to give the city of Los Angeles four starters.

Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant kept the West from being entirely an L.A. story by earning a forward spot for the Feb. 26 game in Orlando. Griffin and Bynum are first-time starters, while Bryant earned his record-tying 14th consecutive nod.

Dwight Howard of the host Magic — unless he’s traded first — was the leading vote-getter with 1.6 million. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are going together again from Miami, while MVP Derrick Rose of Chicago and New York’s Carmelo Anthony round out the East starters.

HOCKEY

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Oilers forward Sam Gagner matched a franchise record held by Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey, two of the NHL’s all-time greats, when he had eight points in Edmonton’s 8-4 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.

Gagner, who entered with five goals all season, busted loose for four goals and four assists — the first eight-point game in the NHL since Pittsburgh star Mario Lemieux did it on Dec. 31, 1988, against New Jersey. Gagner fell two points shy of tying the league mark, set by Toronto’s Darryl Sittler on Feb. 7, 1976.

GOLF

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Ryan Palmer parred his final hole at dusk for a 7-under 64 and the lead in the suspended first round of the Phoenix Open.

The start of the round was delayed an hour because of frost, and play was suspended because of darkness at 6:05 p.m. Webb Simpson was a stroke back at TPC Scottsdale.

GYMNASTICS:

LAS VEGAS (AP) — In his first competitive gymnastics meet in four years, Olympic champion Paul Hamm failed to make it out of the first round.

Hamm struggled at the Winter Cup Challenge and didn’t finish among the top 42, meaning he won’t be asked back for Saturday night’s finals.

It was a surprising development that could make the road back to the Olympics more difficult for the 2004 all-around gold medalist, who is competing a year after a major injury to his right shoulder.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

RUSTON, La. (AP) — Louisiana Tech running back Tyrone Duplessis died after medics responded to an emergency call at his off-campus apartment. Hazel Woods, the chief investigator for the Lincoln Parish coroner’s office, said the cause of death was not yet known and an autopsy is pending.

FREESTYLE WORLD CUP

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — American Hannah Kearney won her 13th straight World Cup moguls title at Deer Valley Resort. The 25-year-old edged U.S. teammate Heather McPhie after starting the super-finals format in second place.

For the men, undefeated 19-year-old Canadian Mikael Kingsbury claimed gold to tie the World Cup moguls record of six consecutive wins set by American Jeremy Bloom.