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Jumbo Package: It’s Game Week!

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Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: Fresno State at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday, everyone. The Tide will kick off another season on Saturday, which means that we will be settling into our game week routine. We have also been considering some old and new ideas to spice things up a bit, just have to see. In any event, football is back.

Saban will also speak to the media today, and begrudgingly pass out his lone depth chart of the season. Who do you think will get the coveted “OR” designations this year?

We have about as much practice information as you’d expect Saban to allow.

— For the second consecutive day, freshman defensive lineman Justin Eboigbe wasn’t spotted while Stephon Wynn (ankle) was seen in a black, non-contact jersey before the team took the field.

Chadarius Townsend, who has played at receiver and defensive back, was spotted with the running backs. He worked with the group during the spring.

The offensive line appears to be set, and it will indeed include the four former five-star prospects plus Chris Owens, with an average score of .9762 on the 247 composite. We will see how they perform together, but from a recruiting standpoint that has to be the one of the most talented lines in CFB history.

Speaking of lines...

And should the spread hold up, it would be the seventh time in Saban’s Alabama tenure that the Tide would be favored by 30-plus over a Power 5 team, according to Covers.com archives.

Alabama is 3-3 against the spread in those games that included last year’s visit to Arkansas. The Tide was a 35-point favorite in game it won 65-31 without covering.

Alabama will be playing Duke for only the fifth time. The first game was a famous Sugar Bowl game in which Bama’s so-called War Babies (a team made up of players too young to be in the service or exempted for physical reasons) against a Duke team made up of seasoned veterans in military training. The heavily-favored Blue Devils prevailed in the Jan. 1, 1945, game by 29-26, a game that went down to the final pass completion by the Tide’s Harry Gilmer.

Otherwise, Alabama had a 35-12 win over Duke in Birmingham to open the 1972 season, a 30-14 victory in Tuscaloosa in 2006, and a 62-13 romp in Durham in 2010.

The good news? It’s a relatively cheap opportunity for a family to see the Tide if you can make it to Atlanta. The get-in price is under $30 on StubHub, and you can probably find them cheaper on the street just before kickoff. Also, since the game is at 2:30 CT, those traveling don’t have to stay at one of the expensive downtown hotels. In fact, many in Alabama could probably do it all in one day if they so desired.

Saban made a bold call to allow Ray Rice to speak to his players, and Cecil has you covered.

No one condones Rice’s actions, to say nothing of glorifying them. The purpose of his visit to UA was not to reflect on his athletic prowess, but to teach that there are things more important than that, and the fame and riches that they can bring. He — like former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, who spoke to the team a couple of weeks ago — was present to discuss his mistakes, not his successes. Some people will be uncomfortable about his presence on campus, and their feelings are understandable, but others will consider his attempts to move forward and regard him as a speaker to whom young athletes can relate.

On the heels of Rice’s visit this clip is making the rounds, and Tim Williams decided to weigh in.

This was a response to a question about D.J. Pettway toward the end of the 2014 season. While it isn’t as prevalent a storyline as it used to be, there are still people who paint Saban as a pariah who doesn’t care about his players, even as they sing his praises.

Former Alabama RB LeRon McClain took to Twitter over the weekend in a disturbing cry for help from the NFL. The initial tweet itself has language that is too rough for the front page, and he reassured his followers that he is OK, but hopefully someone from the NFL will reach out to him just the same.

Last, Josh Jacobs has waltzed into Oakland and won himself a starting job.

Doug Martin is back on the market.

The Oakland Raiders announced they placed Martin on injured reserve. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported, via a source, that the team and Martin are working out a settlement and he’ll be released.

Martin has a shoulder injury that doesn’t seem likely to keep him out all that long, and this move surprised many. Jacobs is going to get feature back carries as a rookie, and it’s hard to imagine someone more deserving.

That’s about it for today. Have a great week.

Roll Tide.