Two weeks after suffering a mini-stroke, Houston's Gary Kubiak expects to return to coaching.
Kubiak has a bevy of arduous tasks in Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders, most notably trying to prevent the Texans from extending a franchise-worst losing streak to eight games.
Kubiak returned to work on a limited basis Monday - eight days after he collapsed at halftime of a 27-24 loss to Indianapolis - and was back at practice Wednesday.
"It just feels great to be back," he said. "You have a true appreciation for the opportunity that you have and the opportunity to be around the players ... and the chance to do my job again.
"I'm on kind of a different schedule - kind of hard to adjust to, but I'm adjusting to it. I'm listening to (the doctors)."
Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips led the team in Kubiak's absence this past Sunday, and the Texans (2-7) were edged 27-24 by Arizona for a seventh straight defeat.
"I wasn't able to watch the whole thing," Kubiak said. "I watched parts of it. Very tough. I hurt with them. It was just hard to watch. It's hard to sit there and watch a football game when you've been there the whole time for the last 30 years."
That performance led to some disparaging comments from nine-time Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed and he was cut Tuesday in the middle of a lackluster season in which he lost his starting job. Houston also placed another Pro Bowler, running back Arian Foster, on injured reserve.
Foster sat out against Arizona because of an injured back and was slated to undergo season-ending surgery this week. His replacement, Ben Tate, gained 56 yards on 15 carries while dealing with four broken ribs.
The Texans couldn't hold a three-point halftime advantage last Sunday and Case Keenum's 5-yard pass to Andre Johnson with 4:34 remaining was the only scoring play in the final two quarters. That came after Houston blew a 21-3 halftime lead in the loss to Indianapolis on Nov. 3.
"Maybe it's our mindset. I'm not really sure," Tate said of the second-half struggles. "Maybe we've just got to learn to put our foot on the gas."
Keenum had three TDs in his third start since replacing Matt Schaub but completed a season-low 51.2 percent of his passes for 201 yards.
"This is probably the most frustrating," Johnson said. "I guess because you have the team. You have the pieces in place and for some reason, we just can't get it done. You just wish things could be better."
The Texans will try to take a step back toward respectability against the AFC's only winless road team. Oakland (3-6) suffered its fourth defeat away from home last Sunday, 24-20 to the New York Giants.
Quarterback Terrelle Pryor played with a sprained ligament in his right knee, and the Raiders gained a season-low 213 yards. He suffered a setback at practice on Friday and has been ruled out, giving undrafted rookie Matt McGloin his first NFL start.
McGloin, who entered training camp fourth on the depth chart, completed seven of 15 passes for 87 yards in his only appearance, a 49-20 loss to Philadelphia on Nov. 3.
"If you're injured and can't help the football team, it's best that we have somebody else in there," coach Dennis Allen said. "When you watch the game, I didn't look at it and think it was really the limitation that held us back."
The last time the Raiders faced the Texans, a 25-20 win on Oct. 9, 2011, Pryor was serving the final contest of a five-game suspension as a rookie for violations he committed at Ohio State. Oakland picked off Schaub twice for only its second victory in seven all-time meetings.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved