By A. Sherrod Blakely
BOSTON Kendrick Perkins is known for having a seemingly never-ending scowl on his face.
But prior to Monday night's game against Houston, Perkins was all smiles.
Yes, we're talking about practice.
Perkins told CSNNE.com that he has been cleared to start full contact practice with the team this week.
"I feel good about it," Perkins said. "Real good."
His return to full-contact practice is yet another signal that the Celtics' top interior defender will be back on the court fairly soon.
Perkins, who has not played since suffering torn ligaments in his right knee in Game Six of the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers last June, told reporters recently that he hoped to be back on the floor by the end of this month.
If he's practicing with the team, that timetable seems very reasonable.
His return could not come at a better time for the Celtics.
Jermaine O'Neal is still having problems with his left knee, the kind of issues that O'Neal believes won't subside anytime soon.
"I can't wait to get back out there," Perkins said.
Celtics Nation feels the same way.