Alabama football coach Nick Saban said Thursday that the Crimson Tide have turned their attention to next weekend's opener against Duke in Atlanta.

Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice spoke to Alabama's football team after Thursday's practice.

Rice is Baltimore's second all-time leading rusher behind Jamal Lewis but is known more for a 2014 video obtained by TMZ showing him punching his fiancée, Janay Palmer, in an elevator and knocking her out. He was suspended and released by the Ravens later in 2014 and never played in the NFL again.

The three-time Pro Bowl pick and Palmer remained together, got married and have since had two children, and Rice travels the country speaking about domestic abuse.

"He's obviously going to talk about how to treat the opposite sex and having the proper respect for other people," Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said in a news conference that preceded Rice's speech to his team.

"I think that's important to relationships, and I think it's important as a person to be able to do those things in a very respectful manner. I think a lot of players can relate to his circumstance, and it will be interesting to hear a guy who has had some issues but has turned a corner and is doing everything he can to help other people not have the same problem he had.

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for him for doing that, and we're certainly glad to have him here."

Saban also had former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, who has domestic violence in his history as well, speak to the team earlier this month.

Alabama used Thursday's practice to focus on Duke, its opponent Aug. 31 at the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game inside Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Blue Devils are coming off an 8-5 season that ended with a rout of Temple in the Independence Bowl.

"This is the first opportunity this team has to be judged as to how they play and who they are," Saban said. "Duke is a very good team that won eight games last year and is very well-coached. They will present some issues scheme-wise that we will certainly need to work on.

The Crimson Tide will practice again Friday and Saturday before taking Sunday off and beginning game-week preparations Monday.

Tide tidbits

Freshman defensive lineman Antonio Alfano returned to practice after missing a couple of days due to personal reasons. ... Saban on redshirt freshman running back Jerome Ford (sprained ankle): "We plan on him playing in this game if he's healthy enough."

Contact David Paschall at or 423-757-6524.