By tagging Brown with the "designated to return" option, the Chargers became the first NFL team to pull that lever, meaning Brown is eligible to return later this season.
The "designated to return" rule is new to the NFL this season. Teams can slap it on one player who's suffered a "major injury," defined as one keeping a player out for six weeks or more.
Brown is an ideal candidate for the new rule.
The second-year wideout broke his ankle on August 18 in a preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys. He was slapped with an eight-week recovery period, meaning the Chargers would have been forced to keep Brown on the 53-man roster or end his season on IR in 2011. In 2012, Philip Rivers sees a light at the end of the tunnel.
UPDATE: The Buffalo Bills also employed the option Tuesday on rookie defensive back Ron Brooks, the team announced. This one is more of an eyebrow raiser. Brown, the team's fourth-round draft pick, had foot surgery last week, but he didn't figure as starting material this season. The Bills obviously think highly of him.
Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.