Francisco expects big step forward
With a full season in the NFL behind him, Arizona Cardinals safety Aaron Francisco has big plans for the upcoming fall -- for himself and the team.
"We might surprise some people this year," Francisco said. "We got a lot of guys who we needed that we brought in this year."
After completing a successful run at BYU in 2004, the Kahuku graduate began his professional career last year by playing 11 games with the Cardinals. His action was primarily limited to special teams, but he's hoping to make more of an impact with the Cardinals defense this season.
"It was tough, but I learned a lot and feel a lot better about things now that I have a whole year under my belt," he said.
Francisco and Saint Louis alums Timmy Chang and Anthony Arceneaux -- the latter who just finished his first season in the Arena Football League -- are among the pros in town this weekend for the Power 4 Sports Youth Football Camp at the Kaiser High School.
Other clients of trainer Chad Ikei in town for the camp are former Pro Bowl linebacker Seth Joyner, Lions safety Idrees Bashir, Cardinals linebacker Isaac Keys, Panthers lineman Evan Mathis, and former USC and current Cardinals lineman Taitusi "Deuce" Lutui.
Francisco (6-foot-2, 206 pounds) registered five tackles as a rookie. He looks to play a larger role this fall with Arizona.
The Cardinals enter 2006 aiming for a breakthrough campaign as well.
Arizona added to their offensive arsenal by signing running back Edgerrin James in the offseason. He joins an attack that already features two of the league's top receivers in Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, another of Ikei's clients.
"We've got the two best receivers in the league on our team, so it only makes us better as defensive players to be playing against that kind of talent every day in practice," Francisco said.
Arceneaux also continues to make strides in professional football. He moved up to the Arena Football League with the Las Vegas Gladiators this season after spending three years in af2, including two with the now-defunct Hawaiian Islanders.
Arceneaux played in every game as a rookie and earned defensive player of the week honors during the season.
"I always planned on playing football as long as I can," he said. "It just establishes me a little bit more to play at that level."