Need some D7000 help
If I understood right, a crude but dependable solution may be to switch on manual focus.
I've been an older Nikon FM3a and DSLR user that decided to do more with the AIs lenses so I got a D7000 the other day. It's definitely an infinity of tricks but one thing I'd consider is going all manual after a few test shot playback readings. Even though I have AF lenses, the AIs still is a good exercise in using the hyperfocal scales on them... where you anticipate and calculate the best focusing based on the aperture you wish to use. Auto focusing negates this because of a totally different and automated focusing technique. Unless you're skilled at manipulating AF, auto focusing may not position the subject in the most appealing depth of field. Sorry, short of terms here but you may not want to focus directly on the subject, a full figure for instance, but something closer yet retain the subject in focus. This way, you can soften the background even more. Of course, you can just switch to manual focusing on an AF lens and if there is any scale information on it, it's crude compared to an AIs.
If you're not familiar with hyperfocal scales, one of the best Nikon lenses to practice with, especially on the D7000, is a 50mm f1.8 AIs. It becomes equivalent to a 75mm and is superb for experiments with depth of field where you can really see what's going on. It will calibrate with the Non CPU setups in the menu and it's a very low cost yet sharpest 50mm lens. I think Nikon really hints at this advantage by putting the Non CPU setup in the D7000 menu, or other higher end models, for that reason. Sometimes, manual can be the ultimate trick for discretionary effects and if you're shooting continuously it works just as fast as AF because you've already optimized the lens settings for a depth your subject may be moving around in.
With my favorite AIs prime lenses, the D7000 is some of the best fun I've had with Nikon! It's interesting to see how zoom lenses and auto focusing have dampened techniques from the past. Those scales were on the lenses for a very informative reason.