ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Gary Kubiak bristled at the suggestion he might still be worn down after a week away from football.
“No, do I look weak?” the Denver Broncos coach said.
Well, truthfully, his voice was a little bit faint.
“That’s probably because I’ve been hollering a lot this morning,” Kubiak said. “But, no, I feel good. And I feel really good just getting out here and getting going again.”
Kubiak, 55, returned to work Monday, a week after his doctor ordered him to take time off after he suffered a complex migraine and was hospitalized overnight following Denver’s loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 9.
Kubiak certainly had plenty to howl about.
During his absence, the Broncos, led by special teams coach Joe DeCamillis, were beaten 21-13 by the San Diego Chargers, who snapped their 10-game losing streak in the AFC West and Denver’s NFL record 15-game divisional road winning streak.
The loss followed a familiar script: slow start, poor play up front, conservative calls.
“It was good just being able to have our leader back,” cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. “He kind of lights a fire under everybody, get everybody going, coaches, players, everybody. So, it’s good to have that accountability back in the room.
“He just kept it straightforward with us, told us what we needed to do. We need to get it going in the right direction. I mean, that’s what you need to hear from your coach, especially after you lost two games like that,” Harris said. “He just pretty much told us the last two games just pretty much looked the exact same, so we need to change what we do.”
The Broncos (4-2) host Houston (4-2) on Monday night in Denver’s first game against former longtime backup QB Brock Osweiler and Kubiak’s first game against his former team.
Kubiak was coach of the Texans in 2013 when he had his first health scare, suffering a mini-stroke during halftime of a game against the Colts. He missed 10 days then and returned, to the coaching box at first.
He’s expected to be on the sideline Monday night.
Kubiak said his doctors in Denver and Houston have compared notes but he doesn’t believe the two medical incidents are related. He said his latest health scare was basically a warning sign that he needs to get more sleep.
“I feel really good,” Kubiak said. “I got too much rest, unfortunately. I didn’t want it. But I got it. I feel very good. … All my tests came back great. So, it’s good to be back to work. I really missed a few days there. It was really tough to watch, so I’m glad to be back.”
Kubiak watched the Broncos’ latest loss with his son, Klein, a Broncos scout, from his home in Denver.
“It’s tough. We’ve got to play better,” Kubiak said. “I told the players today, the last two games for us looked a lot alike, unfortunately.”
Notes: Kubiak said rookie RB Devontae Booker is getting more adept at blitz pickup and “I think he deserves more opportunities to handle the football,” especially after gaining 46 yards on five carries against the Chargers. … The Broncos claimed OL Billy Turner off waivers from the Ravens. To make room, they waived OL Darrion Weems. … LT Russell Okung and WR/KR Cody Latimer both are in the concussion protocol but attended practice on a sunny day, a hopeful sign they’ll be able to return this week.
Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton