Watch Jim Schwartz coach from the sideline, then listen to him afterward, and it is easy to come to this conclusion: Praise is not passed around to his defensive players as if its turkey and mashed potatoes at a Thanksgiving dinner table.

If a player gets a compliment from the Eagles defensive coordinator, it is because he has earned it.

Not many of the players on the field at the NovaCare Complex for Tuesday's padless practice session achieved that status. In fact, after being asked about quarterback Carson Wentz, Schwartz voluntarily mentioned his disdain for what he saw from his defense.

"I can't speak for Carson and what's going on," he said. "I have my own worries. You guys saw how crappy a practice that was. We've got enough worries on defense right now."

Asked about some specific defensive players and Schwartz had a standard wait-and-see response. He was not overly critical, but he has been an NFL coach long enough to know that what you see in late May has very little bearing on what you can expect when training camp and the regular season begin.

That's why his response surprised even himself when the subject turned to the Eagles' starting safeties Tuesday.

"That was money well spent," Schwartz said. "I'm sort of violating my rule with judging too much into this time of year. Both of those guys are veteran players and you can see that right away."

The Eagles spent a guaranteed $38 million on the duo of Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod. Jenkins, after two terrific seasons with the Eagles, received a four-year contract extension worth $35 million, including $21 million guaranteed. McLeod, after starting 48 straight games for the St. Louis Rams, became the Eagles' primary free-agent target on defense, signing for five years and $37 million, including $17 million guaranteed.

That's a lot of money invested in a position that was a black hole for a long time in Philadelphia after Brian Dawkins' free-agent departure in 2009. Now, even though he has witnessed only a handful of voluntary practices, Schwartz thinks the Eagles might have something special at safety again.

"They're both multidimensional," Schwartz said. "They communicate very well. They can cover a lot of ground. They can blitz, they can play man, they can play zone. I'd be very surprised as the year went on if they're not one of the better safety tandems in the NFL. They've been very impressive so far."

In addition to all of the things Schwartz mentioned, Jenkins and McLeod have also been durable. Jenkins, 28, has not missed a game in his two seasons with the Eagles and has emerged as a playmaker and defensive leader. McLeod, who turns 26 next month, earned a starting safety spot in his second season with the Rams.

In the last three seasons, the two of them have combined for 12 interceptions, 15 forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries, and three touchdowns.

Still in his introductory period with McLeod and Schwartz, Jenkins is impressed by both men.

"I knew already from watching [McLeod] on tape that he is a guy who plays really hard and plays fast, plays violent and bigger than he actually is," Jenkins said. "Now, playing next to him, you start to see the smartness and his football IQ.

"You see that he knows the different defenses, the different ways of adjusting, and his ability to use tools for different situations. He is an extension of the coach on the field. That's what you look for in terms of having somebody who can quarterback the defense. It is good to have two guys back there who can do that."

Jenkins compared Schwartz to Gregg Williams, his defensive coordinator in New Orleans when the Saints won the franchise's only Super Bowl.

"Different defenses, but similar in the fact that they think it is more about a mentality than necessarily the X's and O's," Jenkins said. "They're tough on you in practice, but it's really just to prepare you for the game.

"I think it's definitely something that gives you a little bit of confidence going into the season. We'll have a coach that knows situations, knows how to be flexible, knows how to adjust, but also knows there is a certain mentality and standard that must be set in practice day in and day out. Most defenses take the personality of their coordinator and I think with Jim our defense will definitely have an edge."

Perhaps, but the Eagles' defensive players should be advised not to ask their defensive coordinator to pass the compliments along with the cranberries.

@brookob