Kubiak makes surprise visit to practice

Kubiak makes surprise visit to practice
November 7, 2013, 3:00 pm
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The Texans had an unexpected visitor at practice on Thursday.

Just four days after suffering a mini-stroke near the sideline on Sunday night, head coach Gary Kubiak showed up on the practice field to surprise his players toward the end of practice.

“To come out and just surprise us right in the middle of practice was pretty cool,” center Chris Myers said. “You’re going through your team sessions and you just see him in the corner. It’s like seeing a buddy. It’s pretty cool to see him out there.”

Kubiak suffered a TIA (mini-stroke) at halftime of the team’s game against the Colts. He won’t be coaching with the team this weekend in Arizona. In the interim, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has taken over head coaching duties and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison has taken over offensive gameplan and play-calling duties.

“Everybody was excited to see him,” Phillips said. “He looks pretty good. So that was really the highlight.”

The players didn’t see Kubiak all at once. Instead, word started to spread around the practice field and in the huddle as players began pointing out the head coach to one another, very similar to the way those same players found out Kubiak had collapsed at halftime.

Kubiak showed up with less than 25 minutes remaining in practice -- Duane Brown said it was during the last practice period -- wearing street clothes, jeans and a jacket. After practice, Kubiak addressed the team to thank his players for their support and tell them he missed being out there.  

On Wednesday, Phillips said Kubiak was going to attempt to visit but none of the players who spoke on Thursday knew he was going to be at practice.

“It was great. It caught me by surprise,” cornerback Johnathan Joseph said. “One of the guys was like, ‘Kubes is over there’ and I turned over my shoulder and looked and sure enough, he was over there standing in the end zone. I think it just gave guys even more energy throughout practice and just lifted us up to see that he’s doing well to watch us at practice.”

According to the players, Kubiak looked good and was in good spirits. He even cracked a few jokes, some at the expense of some players, ones who sent him sentimental messages and notes.

Players said he singled out Ben Jones, who apparently sent him some sort of card or note. Wade Smith said Jones sent Kubiak a poem, but Jones denied that.

“Yeah, I guess he just likes seeing the smile on my face,” Jones said, still smiling. “I don’t know anything about a letter or anything. I don’t know what (Smith’s) talking about.”

Joseph said he was also one of the players who sent Kubiak a note. He added that he wanted to hear the supposed poem Jones sent to Kubiak. According to Joseph, Kubiak said he would tell the players about Jones’ note next week.

“I’m looking to find out who are some of these guys he’s talking about, whose man card needs to be revoked for how sentimental they was,” Antonio Smith said with a chuckle. “He did call Ben Jones out. I wanna see that letter, see if it’s hand-make with sprinkles and stuff.”

Several players said they’d like to win a game for their head coach this weekend in Arizona. After high expectations, the team has a 2-6 record at the halfway point. But for a little bit of time on Thursday, they didn’t need to think about football. They were just happy to see their head coach in good health.

“He looked good. He looked normal,” Myers said. “Same Kubes, just gonna take it slow with him, precautionary things but it was good seeing him again.”

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