Yes, Charley Taylor has been reading those nasty things Cowboy cornerback. Benny Barnes and Giant safety Jim Stienke have been saying about him - that he has lost his desire, that he is dropping too many footballs and that he is no longer a real threat, the unkindest cut of all.

He also knows that many fans wonder if he will ever regain the form that made him the most productive wide receiver in the history of the game, and that there are even people in his own organization who are asking the same question.

For all of them, Taylor, 35, has a simple answer: "They don't know what the hell they're talking about."

As far as those two guys (Barnes and Stienke) talking, well they beat us and they shouldn't have, and they're just trying to make a name for themselves. The quickest way you can do that is to say something negative about somebody who's well-respected in the league.

"I don't think those guys realized what we were trying to do to them. In Dallas, for example, we wanted to throw to the strong side with Frank (Grant) and Jean (Fugett). That's what we felt would work best against their defense.

"My job in that game, and against New York, too, was to clear things out for them. I wasn't the primary receiver in those games. So those kind of things don't bother me.

"I tell you this: I hope all the teams feel that way about me, because it'll mean I'm going to get more single coverage. That means there'll be fewer people that I have to beat because they're doubling Frank and Jean. I love to see one-on-one coverage. I don't fear any one guy in this league - I never have and I hope I never will.

"I'm sure those cats are just trying to get something going. It's blow me even to get into that."

Pete McCulley, the Redskins' receiver coach, also defended Taylor, who has only 12 receptions this season.

"Those guys are absolutely wrong," he said. "They're wrong now, they'll be wrong tomorrow, the next day, the next week and the next year. They are just plain wrong.

"Charley is a pro's pro, a tough guy and a great competitor, and I'm not just saying that because I have to. He doesn't have to prove anything because he's done everything, and he'll keep on doing it. I have no indications at all that he can't do the job.

"You just go and ask old Jethro Pugh (the Cowboys' defensive tackle) if Charley Taylor can't still peel back and block. You look at the films and you'll see. Shoot, he had one shot in there that looked like a truck hit Pugh."

About the only thing Taylor is hitting these days, however, is the whirl-pool in the Redskin training room. He has a chronically sore left ankle and he suffered a pulled hamstring against the Giants that forced him to miss the Eagle game. But now, he insists. "I think I'll be able to play some in Baltimore."

At the moment, however, the Redskins are saying that Danny Buggs will open in Taylor's spot. Allen went out of his way Monday to say that Buggs' presence in the lineup gives the Redskins a deep threat, a direct implication that Taylor does not.

"There's no question Danny's got the speed and great ability," Taylor said. "Maybe he does give us a different dimension. But I could do the same thing if I had to. If they want me to go deep, I will. I put myself in the same category as a Fred Biletnikoff. I hope I'm the guy they go to when you've got to have the tough catch.

"I roomed with Danny in training camp. I try to help him any way I can. Sometimes he gets upset with me for criticzing him, but he'll come back the next day and say, 'You know, you were right.' He's willing to listen, and I only see good things coming his way."

"But I feel this way: I'm the best receiver on the team. I'm still the starter. He's playing because I'm hurt. As soon as I'm healthy, it's my job. Danny understands that, and coach Allen understands that. He's just not getting to get it handed to him. Oh, no, you've got to earn it; get down and get it."

During training camp, Taylor indicated he would like to play perhaps two years after this season. He says now he is not sure if that is a possibility, though he also insists, "I know I can still play this game."

"When they start that 16-game schedule, I'd like to be a part of that.As a matter of fact, I'm going to be a part of it. And when I retire, I want to retire gracefully."

"I think I've had a hell of a career. I'm happy with the way things have happened. I don't see it as an abrupt ending. I wouldn't even mind being the third or fourth receiver because I think I could help this team.

"Look at what Jerry Smith does. He's not playing much, but if something happens to Jean, he could go in and we don't lose anything. I'm dealing with that kind of thing right now while I'm trying to get healthy."

"But I also get great enjoyment watching Danny or Jean or Frank catch passes. I'm not sure I could have said that a few years ago, but it's a realization I've come to accept."

"But don't bury me now. I'm going to get well, and I'm going to play again. I've still got a few catches left; I know that."

After what he described as "an average practice," Allen indicated that linebacker Chris Hanburger was making good progress in recovering from his knee injury but that it is still too early to say if he can start against the Colts . . . Mike Curtis, according to sources, was still operating with the first unit-defense at Hanburgers right-linebacking position . . . Allen also indicated Charley Taylor would be available. "He's better. I think we can use him in the clutch if we need him."