One good way to insult Charlie Brown is to say he runs a 4.6 40. To cover 40 yards in 4.6 seconds is good for tanks rumbling out of the backfield. Wide receivers need to fly faster. When Brown's speed was questioned in college, where scouts hung a 4.6 label on him, his coach harrumphed. "In boots in a rainstorm he's faster than that," the coach said.

Brown, the newest Redskin hero after two touchdown catches in Sunday's victory at Philadelphia, is a gentle guy in the mellow mold of wide receivers. So he smiled kindly yesterday afternoon, rather than parting your correspondent's hairdo with a barbell, when the matter of the 4.6 was raised.

"I don't ever want to do 4.6," Brown said, laughing at the idea that anybody with two legs could move so slowly. "I've clocked myself at 4.5 the one time I did it, and I believe I am a consistent 4.4."

Give Charlie Brown a couple more Sundays like the last one -- five catches for 97 yards and two touchdowns, the second a 78-yard play in which he ran past a Pro Bowl-level cornerback -- and soon enough the word will spread across the NFL: There's this Brown kid at Washington. The next Swann. The kid can do a 4.3. Play off him or he'll put six on the board.

Joe Theismann took Brown aside during training camp of 1981. "You have one thing God-given that nobody else can give," the veteran quarterback said to the scrawny receiver out of South Carolina State, where they ran the ball mostly. "You have speed. You have to make people aware of it. You have to make people fear your speed. Then even if you don't use it every time, they still have to defend against it."

The people who put together those slow-motion movies love wide receivers because they are the Baryshnikovs of the game. Here comes Swann, sailing high, a jazz number playing softly behind the slo-mo. Speed and grace are their signatures, and Charlie Brown comes to work unmistakably one of the breed. If he's not 4.4, he's close enough -- especially when he takes his speed into the air for the sort of leaping catch that marked him special in the '81 training camp.

Bobby Beathard, the general manager, drafted Brown on the eighth round. The choice seemed inspired. But Brown fell on his left knee at Baltimore in an exhibition game. The resulting pain kept Brown off the active roster all of '81. The 11th week, he had surgery to remove a bone spur from under the kneecap. Five days later, he began what he calls "my comeback."

The comeback included muscle-tone work with the knee but, only slightly less importantly, it called for a full schedule of offseason weightlifting to build upper body strength. The Redskins list him as 5 feet 10 and 179.

"He's not that much heavier now," said Charley Taylor, the Redskin assistant coach who is the team's best receiver ever. "But the fat has turned to muscle. The knee injury may have been a blessing in disguise. If he'd had to do blocking on linebackers last year the way he does now, he might have been shattered up by the fifth or sixth game."

Taylor, like all good coaches, loves all his receivers. He speaks fondly of Art Monk, Virgil Seay, Alvin Garrett and Brown. "It's nice to have three or four guys who can do the job," Taylor said. "Art is developing into a super player, and the three young guys look up to him. So there's enough pressure to keep him going and motivation for them because he's someone to look up to.

"Charlie is going to be a fine receiver. He's smart, he retains everything very well, he works hard and he's got talent."

Theismann on Brown: "Now we've got four receivers who can get deep. Virgil, for instance, would have started Sunday except that he split his finger. Art's the class. But Charlie, Virgil and Alvin can do the job. The thing about Charlie Brown is that he has an innate ability for the big play. You sense it about him. You say to yourself, 'It's going to happen, when is it going to Brown's Overture: Undertones Of A Swann Song By David Kindred

One good way to insult Charlie Brown is to say he runs a 4.6 40. To cover 40 yards in 4.6 seconds is good for tanks rumbling out of the backfield. Wide receivers need to fly faster. When Brown's speed was questioned in college, where scouts hung a 4.6 label on him, his coach harrumphed. "In boots in a rainstorm he's faster than that," the coach said.

Brown, the newest Redskin hero after two touchdown catches in Sunday's victory at Philadelphia, is a gentle guy in the mellow mold of wide receivers. So he smiled kindly yesterday afternoon, rather than parting your correspondent's hairdo with a barbell, when the matter of the 4.6 was raised.

"I don't ever want to do 4.6," Brown said, laughing at the idea that anybody with two legs could move so slowly. "I've clocked myself at 4.5 the one time I did it, and I believe I am a consistent 4.4."

Give Charlie Brown a couple more Sundays like the last one--five catches for 97 yards and two touchdowns, the second a 78-yard play in which he ran past a Pro Bowl-level cornerback--and soon enough the word will spread across the NFL: There's this Brown kid at Washington. The next Swann. The kid can do a 4.3. Play off him or he'll put six on the board.

Joe Theismann took Brown aside during training camp of 1981. "You have one thing God-given that nobody else can give," the veteran quarterback said to the scrawny receiver out of South Carolina State, where they ran the ball mostly. "You have speed. You have to make people aware of it. You have to make people fear your speed. Then even if you don't use it every time, they still have to defend against it."

The people who put together those slow-motion movies love wide receivers because they are the Baryshnikovs of the game. Here comes Swann, sailing high, a jazz number playing softly behind the slo-mo. Speed and grace are their signatures, and Charlie Brown comes to work unmistakably one of the breed. If he's not 4.4, he's close enough -- especially when he takes his speed into the air for the sort of leaping catch that marked him special in the '81 training camp.

Bobby Beathard, the general manager, drafted Brown on the eighth round. The choice seemed inspired. But Brown fell on his left knee at Baltimore in an exhibition game. The resulting pain kept Brown off the active roster all of '81. The 11th week, he had surgery to remove a bone spur from under the kneecap. Five days later, he began what he calls "my comeback."

The comeback included muscle-tone work with the knee but, only slightly less importantly, it called for a full schedule of offseason weightlifting to build upper body strength. The Redskins list him as 5 feet 10 and 179.

"He's not that much heavier now," said Charley Taylor, the Redskin assistant coach who is the team's best receiver ever. "But the fat has turned to muscle. The knee injury may have been a blessing in disguise. If he'd had to do blocking on linebackers last year the way he does now, he might have been shattered up by the fifth or sixth game."

Taylor, like all good coaches, loves all his receivers. He speaks fondly of Art Monk, Virgil Seay, Alvin Garrett and Brown. "It's nice to have three or four guys who can do the job," Taylor said. "Art is developing into a super player, and the three young guys look up to him. So there's enough pressure to keep him going and motivation for them because he's someone to look up to.

"Charlie is going to be a fine receiver. He's smart, he retains everything very well, he works hard and he's got talent."

Theismann on Brown: "Now we've got four receivers who can get deep. Virgil, for instance, would have started Sunday except that he split his finger. Art's the class. But Charlie, Virgil and Alvin can do the job. The thing about Charlie Brown is that he has an innate ability for the big play. You sense it about him. You say to yourself, 'It's going to happen, when is it going to happen?' "

It is blasphemous to mention a one-game rookie in the same paragraph with Lynn Swann. Even a one-game rookie whose second catch is a touchdown, a rookie whose fourth catch is another six, a rookie who runs with a sprinter's efficiency ("He's not a guy who runs outside himself, with his arms flailing around," Theismann says. "He's compact, smooth, pretty.").

So let's put Charlie Brown's name in this paragraph, where we ask him about his college days. Looking at television back then, which of the professional wide receivers did he like?

"A bunch of them," Brown said with a kid's enthusiasm. "John Jefferson. Drew Pearson. And Lynn Swann. Out of those three I couldn't pick one. I love 'em all."

E.B. White wrote, "To do it, you first must dream it." When Charlie Brown watched the pros, he dreamed. He dreamed of doing things Jefferson and Pearson did. "People were always saying things about me and Swann," Brown said, which was nice of people. "Those three guys know how to become winners. They always make the big catches. Nothing can hold 'em back in situations in big games."

Beathard has remade this team from the crumbling ashes left by George Allen. There is yet work to do. But an eighth-rounder such as Brown, along with middle-round choices of starters such as Don Warren and Dexter Manley, is suggestion of good things possible. On Sunday past, trailing by 27-14 and with the offense stagnant, the Redskins needed one of those Swann-Pearson-Jefferson big plays.

"You have to dream of making big plays," Charley Taylor said.

"I knew we needed a big play," Charlie Brown said. "It felt really great."

And right then, not even Lynn Swann could smiled as happily as Charlie Brown did. happen?' "

It is blasphemous to mention a one-game rookie in the same paragraph with Lynn Swann. Even a one-game rookie whose second catch is a touchdown, a rookie whose fourth catch is another six, a rookie who runs with a sprinter's efficiency ("He's not a guy who runs outside himself, with his arms flailing around," Theismann says. "He's compact, smooth, pretty.").

So let's put Charlie Brown's name in this paragraph, where we ask him about his college days. Looking at television back then, which of the professional wide receivers did he like?

"A bunch of them," Brown said with a kid's enthusiasm. "John Jefferson. Drew Pearson. And Lynn Swann. Out of those three I couldn't pick one. I love 'em all."

E.B. White wrote, "To do it, you first must dream it." When Charlie Brown watched the pros, he dreamed. He dreamed of doing things Jefferson and Pearson did. "People were always saying things about me and Swann," Brown said, which was nice of people. "Those three guys know how to become winners. They always make the big catches. Nothing can hold 'em back in situations in big games."

Beathard has remade this team from the crumbling ashes left by George Allen. There is yet work to do. But an eighth-rounder such as Brown, along with middle-round choices of starters such as Don Warren and Dexter Manley, is suggestion of good things possible. On Sunday past, trailing by 27-14 and with the offense stagnant, the Redskins needed one of those Swann-Pearson-Jefferson big plays.

"You have to dream of making big plays," Charley Taylor said.

"I knew we needed a big play," Charlie Brown said. "It felt really great."

And right then, not even Lynn Swann could smiled as happily as Charlie Brown did.