Dexter Manley was talking about the fruits of fame yesterday.

"It was amazing. I felt like Reggie Jackson or Ali," the Washington Redskins' third-year jester/defensive end began. "After we won the Super Bowl, I'd walk outside and everybody recognized me. I did a lot of speaking engagements, too. I just said whatever came to mind. Nothing spectacular. Just 'hi,' then 'bye.' "

After a pause for posterity, Manley leaned forward, rolled his eyes and said, "You know, they may even know me in foreign countries now."

It was that kind of day yesterday at Redskin Park. Nearly 3 1/2 months after John Riggins carried the Redskins on his back and knocked Miami cornerback Don McNeal off his back in Super Bowl XVII, the Washington Redskins veterans returned to workouts at this week's minicamp.

Offensive tackle Joe Jacoby now packs 310 pounds into his 6-foot-7 body, 15 pounds more than last year. Wide receiver Alvin Garrett, who is 5-7, checked in at a Smurfier 195 pounds, 17 pounds more than last year, 10 pounds less than several weeks ago.

"Enjoyed the offseason," Garrett said, smiling.

Since it is only May, when a veteran's football world is still free from pressures and bruises, the atmosphere was light. Rookies spent the day looking.

Richard Williams, the rookie running back from Memphis State, said he looked at Riggins and his first thought was: "The man is extremely big."

And Babe Laufenberg, the rookie quarterback from Indiana, said he looked at Joe Theismann and his first thought was: "Canon cameras."

There was some humor. "This is a team of characters and a team of character," Theismann said. "We're like F-Troop. Patton would have gone nuts here."

There was some reminiscing. "I went to a banquet this week and they had a film from last year of the offensive line," Riggins was saying. "That is when it all started to sink in. I hadn't really felt it before that. Watching the film, it got to me. I kept thinking we were in a dream world.

"They showed some plays in slow motion," he continued. Then, with a smile, Riggins added, "Slow motion makes you look better. Of course, I run in slow motion anyway."

Seriousness arrived, though, when they were asked to look forward, to a season when they will try to remain at the peak rather than struggle to attain it. They all know the difficulty defending Super Bowl champions have had in recent years.

The Oakland Raiders went from Super Bowl champions in 1980 to 7-9 in 1981. The San Francisco 49ers went from Super Bowl champions in 1981 to 3-6 in 1982. Both fell out of the limelight, out of the playoffs, out of control.

"No, I haven't called the coaches of those teams to find out what went wrong," Coach Joe Gibbs said. "This is something within ourselves.

"When you fight so hard to get somewhere one year, you tend to lose it the next year. It's human nature. I've told the players each position is open competition this year . . . We have to maintain that hunger. We need the willingness to sacrifice."

Mark Moseley, the Redskins' kicker and the league's most valuable player, said, "I don't think we've got any fat cats on this team. We all have to remember where we came from. We know we have to work hard, together, to do what we have to do. I'm sure everybody around here expects us to repeat our performance. We feel the same way."

"There won't be anybody here," Riggins said, "who will be apathetic."

Theismann knows one Super Bowl victory does not necessarily connect to another. "If that was the case," he said, "why hasn't Pittsburgh won (the Super Bowl) every year since 1970?

"But if you start worrying about guarding against what happened to them (49ers and Raiders), then it will become a problem."

But Theismann knows a repeat performance is possible for the Redskins as it was for Green Bay (1966, 1967 seasons), Miami (1972, 1973) and Pittsburgh (1974, 1975 and 1978, 1979).

"When I look back at last year I think of the great job that Mark did for us kicking under pressure," Theismann said. "I think of the great job that John (Riggins) did for us. I think of the great job Alvin (Garrett) did for us coming in when we needed him.

"Then I think how much better we will be this year with Joe (Washington, running back) and Art (Monk, wide receiver) healthy for an entire season."

With a touch far more delicate than he might show on a third-and-one play from the Dallas 40, Riggins said, "I told Mr. Cooke (Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke) that when he decides to write his autobiography years from now that he will need another Super Bowl trophy to use as a bookend . . . Now, we have to go out and get it."

Garrett added, "Tell everybody the Smurfs are ready to roll."

Tom Owen, reserve quarterback, has decided to remain with the Redskins instead of moving on to the Denver Gold of the U.S. Football League, General Manager Bobby Beathard said. Beathard also said Owen, who is still in Kansas, would not participate in this minicamp, which ends Saturday. Owen is expected to rejoin the team at its summer training camp . . . Offensive guard Fred Dean said he will report to minicamp today. Dean, who is still unsigned, said his absence the past two days was caused by personal reasons, not contractual ones. Reached in Gainesville, Fla., yesterday, Dean also denied that he might play for the Tampa Bay Bandits of the USFL: "I don't know anything about it," he said . . . Clarence Williams, eighth-year running back, did not work out yesterday because he is unsigned. Late yesterday, however, Beathard said Williams reached a contract agreement. He is expected to participate in workouts today . . . Tight ends Don Warren (severe ankle sprain) and Mike Williams (torn right knee ligaments, running back Joe Washington (offseason surgery on both knees) and wide receiver Art Monk (broken right foot) are still recuperating. None is participating in workouts.