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Around & about

Maggert, Merrick tied

Jeff Maggert and John Merrick shot 4-under 66 on Thursday to share the first-round lead in the St. Jude Classic in Memphis, leaving U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy two strokes back.

Maggert took advantage of teeing off in the first group with calm conditions for the first seven holes, and finished with four birdies, an eagle and two bogeys. Merrick matched his best round of the year with six birdies and two bogeys, the last on No. 18 when his tee shot went into the water to drop him back into a tie for the lead.

S.Y. Noh, Arjun Atwal, Jeff Overton and J.J. Henry were a stroke back.

At the Regions Tradition in Birmingham, Ala., Dan Forsman and Bill Glasson shared the first-round lead, shooting 6-under 66 at Shoal Creek in the second of the Champions Tour's five major championships.

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Brees gets new offer

The New Orleans Saints have made a new contract offer to record-setting quarterback Drew Brees, said a person familiar with the situation.

The person spoke to The Associated Press Thursday on condition of anonymity because the team and the quarterback have not publicly discussed the new offer. The Saints have placed their one-year franchise tag on Brees, barring him from negotiating with other teams.

In other NFL news, the New England Patriots released receiver Chad Ochocinco on Thursday, cutting loose the six-time Pro Bowl selection after one season in which he was more active on Twitter than on the field.

"Thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to play for the 'Patriot' organization. fans were wicked awesome, I wish all of you the best," he tweeted at about the same time the team was announcing he had been released.

Ochocinco, 34, played in 15 games in his only season with the Patriots, starting three and catching 15 passes for 276 yards. He caught one pass in the Super Bowl as New England lost, 21-17, to the New York Giants.

Also, the Jacksonville Jaguars are giving oft-injured defensive end Aaron Kampman a chance to catch on elsewhere by waiving him. Kampman has missed 28 games over the last three seasons while playing for Jacksonville and Green Bay, including 13 last year.

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Briefly

*Defending champion Danell Leyva grabbed the early lead at the U.S. men's gymnastics championships in St. Louis, sneaking past John Orozco in the final rotation with a polished parallel bars routine. Leyva, also the world champion in the event, scored 15.800 points to finish at 91.850.

*Kansas State's Erik Kynard successfully defended his high jump title in the NCAA outdoor track and field championships in Des Moines, clearing 7 feet, 9 1/4 inches. Boise State's Kurt Felix won the decathlon with 8,062 points, while Tim Glover defended his title in the javelin with a throw of 268 feet.

From News and wire service reports.