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Vikings’ Sullivan ‘full of emotions’ preparing to face former Packers team

Sullivan downplays how much he can tell his teammates about the Packers, but doesn’t deny he’s fired up to be going against this former team.

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Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson hits the turf after picking up a first down against Green Bay Packers defensive back Chandon Sullivan in the third quarter of an NFL game in this 2021 file photo at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
John Autey / Pioneer Press
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A number of Vikings players approached cornerback Chandon Sullivan during training camp to ask questions about Green Bay. The list figures to get even longer this week.

Sullivan and outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith both played for the Packers for each of the past three seasons before signing with Minnesota. And Green Bay comes to U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday for the regular-season opener.

Wide receiver K.J. Osborn said he has picked Sullivan’s brain about the Packers. When asked if he expects to be getting some secrets from him before the opener, Osborn said with a laugh, “Oh, yeah, for sure.”

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Sullivan downplays how much he can tell his teammates about the Packers, but doesn’t deny he’s fired up to be going against this former team.

“I’m excited for a number of reasons,’’ Sullivan said. “It’s the first game, so you’re always excited about that. It’s a first game in a new jersey and I’m going against my old team, so you know I’m full of emotions, but I’ll be ready.”

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Sullivan, who was undrafted out of Georgia State in 2018 and is entering his fifth NFL season, started 20 of the 49 games he played for the Packers the past three seasons. He said there were some discussions about returning to Green Bay, but instead signed a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Vikings last March.

“We had conversations about coming back to Green Bay, but I felt like I had a better opportunity and I was ready to explore my future here,’’ Sullivan said. “So I’m here and I’m a Viking. (It was) just a better opportunity I felt to show my talents and be respected and appreciated. A better chance for me to be a leader and I see more of a future here for sure.’’

Sullivan has taken over the primary nickel back spot that was manned last season by Mackensie Alexander, but not very well. Alexander was the lowest-rated cornerback in the NFL last season by Pro Football Focus among those who played regularly.

“I loved competing against him when he was over at Green Bay, and just him bringing his swag to our defense and me being able to compete with him every day (in practice),’’ Osborn said about Sullivan. “I’m super excited to see how he fits in our defense.’’

The Vikings shifted this season from a 4-3 to a 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator Ed Donatell. Sullivan played in a similar defense in Green Bay, and has been joined in Minnesota this season by some familiar faces.

Vikings assistant head coach Mike Pettine was Green Bay’s defensive coordinator from 2018-20, which included Sullivan’s first two seasons with the Packers. And Vikings outside linebackers coach Mike Smith had that role the past three years with Green Bay.

“It’s been a smooth transition,’’ Sullivan said. “I knew what I was getting into with the coaching staff and the players that are here and it made it an easy transition, and I’m ready to go. I’ve been in similar defenses the last few years so I’m able to use my experience from last year and the years before to come out here and be a veteran leader.”

As for any secrets Sullivan might be able to share with his teammates heading into Sunday’s game, he will do what he can. After all, he did spend three years going against star quarterback Aaron Rodgers in practices.

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“Everyone knows he’s one of the best quarterbacks of all time,’’ Sullivan said. “I’m just going to give what tiny details that I have that I can share, but you never know what you’re going to get. It’s the first game and we’re going to have a lot of unscouted looks. … But we’ve just got to be disciplined and trust our details.”

Sullivan is preparing for plenty of more questions to be asked about the Packers as Sunday’s game approaches.

“Anywhere I can help, of course I will,’’ he said.

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This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

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