Near the end of Thursday’s workout, a couple of Texans did a double take, having noticed a guy with a flattop who bore an uncanny resemblance to Gary Kubiak standing off to the side, next to general manager Rick Smith.

But that couldn’t be, could it? The Texans’ head coach was supposed to be down for the count this week after suffering a “mini” stroke during the Indianapolis game Sunday night. Hadn’t it already been announced that defensive coordinator Wade Phillips would serve as acting head coach for this weekend’s game at Arizona? Wasn’t Kubiak, under doctor’s orders, supposed to be resting quietly at home, regaining his strength?

Yes, all true. But Kubiak, it seems, finagled a short visit to the practice field so he could show the players he really is on the mend and, barring a setback, could be returning to work as early as next week. Phillips called Kubiak’s appearance the day’s “highlight,” and he got no argument from any of the Texans.

“It was kinda cool, like seeing a buddy,” center Chris Myers said. Defensive end Antonio Smith termed the coach’s presence “a breath of fresh air. … Everybody was wondering how he’s really doing. Is he really worse than what they said? But he was right there in front of us, doing good.”

Added left tackle Duane Brown: “It was heartwarming, man. We had no idea (he was coming). It put a big smile on my face when I saw him, and I’m sure it did for everyone else. It just lifted our spirits to see him up walking about. That meant the world to us … hearing he was doing well and that he would make a full recovery. To see him, to have him address us, talk to us, (with) a clear mind and everything, that was comforting.”