All those questions were definitively answered by Peterson's two-touchdown performance in Week 1 against Jacksonville and Peterson said the gratification was reaching the lofty goal he set for himself when he had reconstructive knee surgery Dec. 30.
"It felt good to get the first game out of the way," Peterson said. "I had it my mind that I was going to be able to play. I think everyone else around didn't know exactly what was going to happen. I can say that it feels good to get the first game under my belt and even better to have a win and start this new process."
The process of which Peterson speaks is the residual pain he feels after games. While the team had more concerns as to whether Peterson would be ready for Week 1 of the regular season, his biggest concern was how the knee was going respond in the day or two after his first game. As with the prognosis of his doubters heading into last Sunday, Peterson's pain assessment is better than expected.
"It's holding up," Peterson said. "I didn't experience any swelling at all. I am experiencing some soreness, but I was expecting that. That kind of lingered for two days, but I'm feeling pretty good today. I still feel it a little bit, but it won't hold me back."
Peterson said that, while his mind and body were willing, he didn't have the explosiveness he expected or desired. He pointed out a couple of runs, including his game-long 20-yarder that he was convinced he would have taken to the house had he not been, in his own estimation, at 95 percent.
"(There was) no soreness (during the game), just not as explosive as I would like to be right now," Peterson said. "I'm not 100 percent, but I'll be there soon."
In most instances, 95 percent of full health is almost indistinguishable from being at full steam. But, in Peterson's world, that 5 percent is the difference between a 10- or 20-yard run and a 70-yard touchdown.
"It doesn't sound like much from the outside looking in, but I know my game and know where I want to be," Peterson said. "It's going to be (a) huge (difference) once I get 100 percent – like night and day. Seriously. I'm keeping that in mind. I'm excited to strengthen this leg and do what I need to do to get there and push to be 100 percent, so I really can go out and perform the way I want to."
It remains unclear whether the Vikings will keep Peterson on the NFL equivalent of a pitch count. Head coach Leslie Frazier said Sunday that the plan was to get Peterson 10 to 15 touches. Had the game not gone to overtime, they would have hit the top end of that mark almost exactly. Now that he has proved to everyone that he is back, will the Vikings give him his standard 20-25 touch workload? Frazier said no, but Peterson isn't sure.
"I don't know," Peterson said. "We'll probably talk about that tomorrow. We could see something similar or a little or a little less. I don't know – whatever they call me to do."
Peterson hopes that soon discussion of his knee injury will be over and he can get back to talking about things he is more comfortable with. Sunday, he surpassed Robert Smith as the Vikings' all-time leading rusher. In a video message shown in the stadium, Smith told Peterson to go after a different Smith moving forward – the NFL's all-time leading rusher, Emmitt Smith. It will be a tall order, since Peterson is more than 10,000 yards behind Smith, but, as he tries to put the talk of his knee surgery behind him, he thinks it is a possibility.
"It's intriguing," Peterson said. "You set goals that you want to accomplish. What greater accomplishment (is there) to get than the all-time leading rusher in the NFL? I think it's something, God-willing if I stay healthy, will come over time."
It seems like a tall order, but, given Peterson's ability to surpass expectations before his knee injury and since, don't sell him short. Too many people have failed at that already.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.