The Caps open the Eastern Conference semifinals tonight for just the second time since their run to the Stanley Cup finals 13 years ago.

The Nats are close to .500 as they welcome the world champion Giants to Washington this weekend.

But the top sports story in town this morning is that the Redskins are in the midst of their happiest 24 hours since: a) they edged Jacksonville in Week 16 more than four months ago; b) they beat the Bears in Chicago to improve to 4-3 more than six months ago; or c) last April when they traded for star quarterback Donovan McNabb and drafted coveted left tackle Trent Williams in the first round.

Since sundown last night, the Redskins have: a) traded down six spots in the first round and obtained another second-round selection: b) chosen probably the biggest playmaker in the draft in Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan, who is supposed to make the Orakpoesque switch from college defensive end to NFL outside linebacker; and c) welcomed the players back to Redskins Park for the first time since the day after last season ended at 6-10 with a loss to the New York Giants on Jan. 2.

Within the first two hours that players were allowed to report in the wake of the at least temporary end to the NFL lockout, 11 had arrived to work out at Redskins Park including Pro Bowl cornerback DeAngelo Hall, left guard Will Montgomery, free agent-to-be defensive end Kedric Golston and outside linebacker/jack of all trades Lorenzo Alexander, who’s expected to lose his job to Kerrigan but could be an option at inside linebacker if Rocky McIntosh departs as a free agent.

As for the 6-foot-4, 263-pound Kerrigan, his career big-play numbers at Purdue are jaw-dropping: a Division I-A record 14 forced fumbles along with 33.5 sacks (second among 2010 seniors) and 57 tackles for losses (fourth).

The math education major from Muncie, Ind. made it six of the last eight drafts in which the Redskins’ top choice was on defense. Two of the previous five selections: Orakpo and late safety Sean Taylor, were chosen for multiple Pro Bowls. The other three: McIntosh, cornerback Carlos Rogers and safety LaRon Landry each started at least four seasons.

That’s a pretty strong track record, especially compared to the lack of production from the four offensive players the Redskins chose first in the past decade: quarterback Patrick Ramsey, receivers Taylor Jacobs and Devin Thomas and Williams, who should become a fixture if he pushes himself.

So Redskins fans enjoy the rest of one of the best days you’ve had in the last 2-1/2 years.

david elfin sm David Elfin On Sports: A Great Day To Be A Redskins FanDavid Elfin has covered sports since he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in 1975. He is the Washington representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and is the former President of the Pro Football Writers of America. A pre-game regular on 106.7-The Fan during the 2010 Redskins season, he returned to the station as its blogger in March.


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