Vikings coach Mike Zimmer thinks Adrian Peterson is taking too many hits and he'd like to get his superstar the ball more in open space.
Zimmer made the conclusion after watching a lot of film on Peterson since taking over as the Vikings coach in January.
Zimmer was on ESPN's NFL Insiders program and told Chris Mortensen, Ed Werder and Bill Polian that he would like to run Peterson "into a few less bodies, so there's not 11 of them hitting him."
Zimmer said, "That's part of the thing about opening the field up, spreading the ball around a little bit, getting the ball in space."
ESPN reports that Peterson has logged more carries against eight-man fronts during the last two seasons than any running back in the league.
But with new offensive coordinator Norv Turner that could change. Turner has always had a history of involving the running backs in the passing game. As a receiver, Peterson's best year came in 2009 when he caught 43 passes from Brett Favre, according to ESPN.
"He's such a great player, a hall of fame player, one of the best ever," Zimmer said Tuesday. "I think you always got to use those kind of guys."
Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards in 2012, the second most in NFL history, but fell off to 1,266 yards and missed two games in December due to injury.
Peterson underwent surgery on his groin in January, but general manager Rick Spielman recently said he will be "fine" once offseason workouts get underway in April.