As the 28 National Football League teams began cutting their replacement players yesterday, there were few reports of confrontations between returning regulars and nonunion players or the approximately 230 players who crossed picket lines before the 24-day strike ended Thursday,

The Philadelphia Eagles cut all their replacements who played the past three weeks; the Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants cut all but two. Other teams kept as many as half and the Houston Oilers cut only enough to reach the NFL's new 85-man active roster limit effective today.

Those teams that kept players in quantity generally fell into a grouping that felt the extra numbers would be advantageous in practice this week. Others retained only the players they thought might have a future in the NFL, although no one expressed an opinion that many of the replacement players will be included in the 45-man rosters for games Sunday and Monday.

"Some clubs are being somewhat intelligent about it," said Dallas Cowboys President Tex Schramm, who estimated the Cowboys would keep about half their replacement team following last night's game against the Washington Redskins. "It would be helpful to have offensive and defensive teams to work {the returning players} against, instead of against each other."

Dick Steinberg, director of player personnel for the New England Patriots, said that by keeping about half the replacements, the Patriots will be able "to conduct a college-like practice where we don't have to use our offensive regulars against our defensive regulars . . . a faster-paced practice."

Houston Coach Jerry Glanville said his returning Oilers will be competing for jobs, but not as punishment. "They should be used to it," Glanville said. "Guys in the NFL have to compete for their jobs every day of their careers."

Pittsburgh Coach Chuck Noll, who will have a 72-player roster this week, said that replacement quarterback Steve Bono not only had earned the backup spot on the Steelers' regular roster but former No. 2 Bubby Brister lost any chance of replacing Mark Malone as starter by not crossing picket lines. Malone has the NFL's lowest quarterback rating, 17.2, off his statistics for this season's two prestrike games.

Success during the strike also was a reason for teams keeping more than a handful of players. The Cleveland Browns kept 14, including nine who contributed to the best defense in the league during the replacement games. The San Diego Chargers, who won three straight road games during the strike, did not announce any cuts but a spokesman said the team believes "there are 15-20 guys worth looking at."

Managements of some strong union teams that had little success with replacement players wanted to get things back to normal as quickly as possible. The threat of a wildcat walkout by the returning players no longer seems to worry many teams. In Philadelphia, Eagles player representative John Spagnola said, "We're back for good and we're not going to hop, skip and jump over the picket line and back again."

The defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, the only winless team in the league, kept two offensive linemen because they were short at that position, said General Manager George Young.

"In our situation, we have to get back to normalcy as quickly as possible . . . because we have a lot of catching up to do," Young said. "We have to minimize all distractions and get people back to playing as soon as possible and not be in an experimental stage. I think we have the players here to win with. We just have to move along."

The New York Jets, the Washington Redskins' next opponent, kept 15 players; Miami 14 and the New Orleans Saints 11 among other teams already announcing cuts.

The owners' Management Council said rosters will be reduced next week, Schramm saying yesterday he envisioned a maximum midweek roster of 55-60. Schramm said it is unlikely the game roster will be increased to 49.

In Philadelphia, Eagles veterans sat silent as three replacement players walked through their locker room to bid adieu to the team trainer. On the way, quarterback Scott Tinsley stopped at the locker of Randall Cunningham, the man he replaced. "He just wished me good luck. I didn't answer," Cunningham told the Associated Press.

In Buffalo, the two veteran players who returned to the Bills before the end of the 24-day strike by the NFL players union found spray cans in their lockers. They were labeled "Scab Guard: Kills Nasty Germs on Contact." The returning regulars were greeted by a stern warning from Coach Marv Levy.

Levy said he spent 20 minutes on the subject. "I told them, 'When I walk out of this room, I'm not going to talk about it anymore. It's over.' I've said the last I'm going to say about the strike. I didn't put any gag orders on them, but I suggested they do the same."

Levy's concern was partly caused by remarks star quarterback Jim Kelly made on national television Sunday about retribution to union players who returned to work before the strike ended.

New England Coach Raymond Berry "laid down the law" as a team spokesman put it, and 12 Patriots who played in Sunday's final replacement game ate lunch together with the other regulars yesterday. "And there was no food fight," said running back Craig James.

In Atlanta, Falcons Coach Marion Campbell had a different idea: "Let's have a Replacement Bowl for these teams. Let them determine a winner so we can throw these games out and get on with the season. But don't make us coach 'em."