The first three days of Eagles training camp usually involve a mundane exercise during which the team's rookies and a smattering of veterans receive a refresher course on the offensive and defensive schemes.

It's really not much fun to watch until the veterans arrive, the pads go on, and the hits start coming.

Yesterday morning's practice was even more dreary than usual. Thunderstorms forced the Eagles to move inside to the tiny field house at Lehigh University, which meant the practice was limited. The only person who could have possibly enjoyed the experience was Donovan McNabb. The quarterback with the surgically repaired right knee was excused from the experience by head coach Andy Reid.

"This [inside] surface here has a tendency to get a little slick, and I didn't want to take any chances," Reid said after the morning practice. "He stayed up [in the trainer's room] and did his rehab work and worked on his conditioning."

The rain and lightning were long gone by the 3:30 p.m. practice. McNabb, brace on his right knee in place, participated in the workout. Reid said his veteran quarterback would get the day off today when the Eagles stage a brief morning practice, with the remaining veterans scheduled to report in the afternoon.

Reid said the biggest disadvantage practicing inside is the filming of the workouts.

"The film isn't quite as good in here as it is outside," he said. "Obviously it's not a regulation field, so you make the best of it and you go with it."

Actually, it's not a field at all. It's a synthetic basketball surface surrounded by an indoor rubber track. It's a terrible place to practice.

"We will try, if at all possible, to go outside even if it's raining a little bit," Reid said. "It's the lightning that's a concern."

Despite the fact that Lehigh does not have a true indoor football training facility, Reid said he likes the idea of the team's two-week mountain retreat from South Philadelphia at the start of training camp.

"I think there are some pluses to coming up here," he said. "From a team standpoint, you have everyone coming together and having to live together, and I think all those things are important. There are some positives to being back [in Philadelphia], but there are some positives here."

Thunderstorms are forecast again today in the Lehigh Valley, but there's no rain in the forecast for later in the week when the Eagles are scheduled to begin their full contact sessions.

Extra points

Undrafted rookie safety

Marcus Paschal

left the afternoon practice after he collided with a teammate. Paschal has a decent shot at winning a job as a reserve. . . . Tight end

Lee Vickers

is working on long-snapping, a job that figures to belong to

Jon Dorenbos,

who replaced retired veteran

Mike Bartrum

with six games remaining last season. Vickers has a lot of work to do as evidenced by this comment from Reid: "It's good work for the punter." . . . Former Eagles

Otis Smith

(cornerback, 1991-94),

Mike Caldwell

(linebacker, 1998-2001), and

Charles Johnson

(wide receiver, 1999-2000) are serving as intern coaches in training camp.

- Bob Brookover