ENGLEWOOD—Gary Kubiak is not addressing his team’s disturbing run of slow starts by hoping the problem goes away.
The Denver Broncos are 4-2 this year despite getting outscored a combined 34-13 in the first quarter. Their supposedly vaunted defense has given up four touchdowns and a field goal on its six game-opening opening series.
“We’ve had to change things up this week, but I change things about every two or three weeks anyway,’’ Kubiak said. “It’s just the way we do things. We practiced in our pads earlier this week (more) than we normally do. We needed a good, long practice today so it’s nice. We had heat, we were our here a long time, had a lot of football to cover and get better at our attention to detail and get really focused on that. We have a lot of things that we have to get better.”
Left tackle Russell Okung has not been completely cleared from the concussion protocol, but he’s far enough along that he was able to practice Friday.
And if all goes well the next 48 hours, Okung will play Monday night against the Texans. Okung was taken by ambulance to a San Diego hospital with concussion-like symptoms following the Broncos’ 21-13 loss last Thursday night.
“He’ s on track,’’ Kubiak said. “I’d say that he took the majority of the reps today, hopefully some more tomorrow. We have a lot of time on our hands until Monday night, but he’s on track, doing well.”
Although Cody Latimer also participated in individual drills Friday for the first time since he was concussed in the game last Thursday against San Diego, Kubiak indicated the receiver had further to go in his recovery.
Broncos rookie Riley Dixon has come through with several nice punts in recent weeks, including two that resulted in Charger fumbles last Thursday. But as young punters often do, he had two boots that were low and down the middle against the Chargers and Dexter McCluster had returns of 16 and 8 yards.
“He had the really good game against Tampa Bay and against Cincinnati,’’ said Joe DeCamillis, the Broncos’ special teams coordinator. “He took ‘Pacman’ (Cincinnati’s Adam Jones) out of it and really limited a guy in Tampa Bay (Eric Weems) who we had a lot of respect for and then he struggled the last couple of weeks.
“We have to get him back on track. He’s had a good week of practice. That was really his first time dealing with not really punting going into the game because it was a short week. They have to learn from all of those things and he does, too. We’ll get him back on track this week.”