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Nick Saban says he's surprised by negative reports surrounding AJ McCarron

Nick Saban surprised by negative AJ McCarron reports ahead of 2014 NFL draft AJ McCarron (left) went 36-4 under Nick Saban at Alabama. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

In the weeks leading up to the draft, AJ McCarron said he believed he would come off the board between pick Nos. 16-35.

He didn't, eventually falling to the Bengals in the fifth round, with some reports suggesting that McCarron rubbed teams the wrong way with his cocky, self-assured attitude.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban, whom McCarron spent four years under, was caught off-guard by those reports.

MORE: 2015 NFL Mock Draft | 2014 NFL draft grades: How your team did | Top undrafted

"It does surprise me. He was never that way to me," Saban said before a "Crimson Caravan" stop in Montgomery, Ala. "And I think if you ask a lot of teammates, they would probably say the same. I think AJ is a very good person. And regardless of what he said to you and whatever way he sort of left you with an impression, if he could do something to help you, he would be the first one there to do it."

McCarron also suggested that he spent the vast majority of his time at Alabama playing injured, saying that he "sacrificed" a lot for the program.

"A lot of people don't realize I wasn't healthy at Alabama. I sacrificed a lot to play for coach [Nick] Saban and that university," McCarron told Senior Bowl President Phil Savage during a post-draft interview on Sirius/XM Radio. "I played through a lot of injuries, and we never leaked it because that's just the way it is."

The newest member of the Cincinnati Bengals did what he could to distance himself from the comments later, but the story was out.

To his credit, Saban deflected those claims and used the opportunity to further praise McCarron.

"Well, he never said any of those things to me," Saban said. "All I know is he did a great job for us and he was a good leader on our team and a good person."

[si-nfl-player id="5782124535244a39adab0c31192a80b4"]
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