His name alone -- Charlie Brown -- makes him worth an extra look. But this Redskin wide receiver is no comic strip figure when it comes to catching passes.

Instead, he's a fine rookie prospect who has a legitimate chance to make the team, even if it means being subjected to all those warmed-over Lucy, Linus and Snoopy jokes.

"People don't really tease me much about my name," said Brown, a quiet, shy, extremely confident man. "But I've noticed one thing. No one can call me just 'Charlie,' It's always 'Charlie Brown,' like it's all one word."

At South Carolina State, however, they called him "Swan." As in Lynn Swann.

"I jump well," Brown said. "I made a lot of catches in college in pressure situations when I had to leap high for the ball. That's when they started calling me Swan."

But pro scouts, for the most part, called him a reject. He wasn't on one of the major scouting-combine lists and was rated a "three" on the other. And how bad is a three?

"Terrible," said scout Charley Casserly. "That means you can't play at all."

But the Redskins thought Brown had enough ability to take him in the eighth round, even though he hardly figured in their plans two weeks before the draft.

That was when General Manager Bobby Beathard, at the urging of scout Charley Taylor, worked out Brown on the South Carolina State campus. Beathard agreed to the tryout as a courtesy to Taylor. He ended it gushing over Brown.

"Charley kept telling me this kid could play," Beathard said. "But that late before the draft, you figure all the good ones would be known. The combine scouts didn't think he was tough enough. They said he wouldn't catch the ball once the game started.

"Once the workout started, you could see Brown was a lot better than he was rated," Beathard said. "He caught everything I threw to him and he had that jet, that extra burst of speed. He would glide along and then, boom, he'd get to the pass, even if it was overthrown; but he'd never break stride. He's really smooth."

That's what attracted Taylor to Brown. Brown isn't very big a 5 feet 11 but he had the jumping ability -- he has been able to dunk a basketball since he was 5-9 -- and he seemed to have the kind of quickness that would hold up in the pros.

"I remember looking at films of the South Carolina State games and seeing this No. 45 sticking out," said Taylor, who is working with the receivers this training camp. "I had to find out who he was. His time for the 40 when I clocked him wasn't good, a 4.7, but the films gave me a different picture.

"He had agility and that great leaping ability. He played like a guy 6-2. And he also could run the 40 in 4.5. I kept after Bobby, asking him if he had worked out Charlie yet. Bobby tried twice but wasn't able to do it. The third time he did, and look where Charlie is now."

The Redskins weren't the only team aware of Brown's ability. Eighteen clubs worked him out and Tampa Bay and Los Angeles were about to draft him before the Redskins did. To go from a reject to an eighth-round choice so late before the draft is rare, but the Redskins realized they couldn't risk trying to sign him as a free agent.

"Best thing we did was to get him in the eighth," Beathard said. "If we let him go, hoping he would be around after the draft, we would have lost him."

Brown was the hit of the Redskins' minicamps with his acrobatic catches and ability to pull in the ball despite heavy coverage. But there is a vast difference between doing well in that atmosphere, in which contact is forbidden, and excelling here, where the competition stiffens and cornerbacks get much more physical.

For Brown to become a Redskin, he will have to build on those minicamp performances. He must show he can handle pressing cornerbacks, the threat of footsteps, the complexity of Coach Joe Gibbs' offense. He also must beat out a handful of more experienced players while convincing the coaching staff that he has enough attributes to overcome his lack of size.

Wide receiver is one position at which a young player can make a breakthrough. Gibbs wants more speed and versatility to complement the team's more aggressive attack. So the staff is working hard to correct Brown's weaknesses and build on his strengths.

"He leaps a little too much sometimes," said Taylor. "He can jump so well; but you have to do it at the right time or the backs will come up and cut you off.

"He also has to stop staring at the defensive back so hard," said Taylor, the master at decoying defenders. "He has to learn to read defenses without being that mechanical. But this offense is a lot different than what he was used to in college. It takes time."

Brown has made breakthroughs before. When North Carolina A&T failed to sign him to a scholarship, as he had hoped, he sold himself to South Carolina State, where he caught 61 passes as a four-year starter on a run-oriented team. When he was not picked for any of the postseason black all-star games, he worked hard enough in the offseason to be drafted ahead of many of the all-star participants.

"I've always felt I could make it in the pros," he said. "I just wanted to get off to a fast start. I wanted to be good the first minicamp, better the next, and really good at this camp. I figure if I set those kind of goals for myself, "I've got a wind up making the team."