MINNEAPOLIS -- It's test time for the Raiders on the campus of the University of Minnesota.
The first hint of the Raiders' new identity will be on display Friday night (5 p.m.) in their exhibition opener against the Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium.
The offseason and training camp has been full of promise, given an influx of veteran players and a rookie class that could contribute right away.
Quarterback Matt Schaub will make his Raiders debut, although it will probably be little more than a cameo appearance with the first team. Acquired from the Houston Texans for a sixth-round draft pick in March, Schaub has seen nothing but the black uniforms of the Raiders defense.
"Once you put on that jersey for real, which is in the preseason, you are out there representing the Raider Nation," Schaub said. "It starts here. It started in March when I came here. We're just looking forward to lining up against another team."
Raiders coach Dennis Allen won't say exactly how much the starting teams will play but hinted it won't be much.
"We'll put the first team out there for a few plays and see how it goes, but I really want to have an opportunity in the first preseason game to see a lot of these young players go out and play," Allen said. "It's an evaluation process, and this is a big part of the evaluation."
A dozen practice sessions in Napa have given Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie an idea of what they have, but actual games will provide even more information.
"I equate it to college when you take a midterm or a final exam," Allen said. "Those are always weighted a little more heavily. What they do in a real, live game situation is probably going to carry a little more weight than what they do in practice."
So rather than seeing a lot of Schaub, running back Maurice Jones-Drew, new defensive ends Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley and cornerbacks Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers, it will be a steady stream of the likes of second-round draft pick Derek Carr, running back Latavius Murray and defensive linemen such as rookies Justin Ellis and Shelby Harris.
Other than the loss of tight end David Ausberry to knee surgery, it's been a healthy training camp for the Raiders. The Minnesota game begins a physical stretch that includes two joint practice sessions with the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday and Wednesday in Oxnard and a second exhibition game Aug. 15 in their home debut against the Detroit Lions.
With that in mind, Allen will be judicious with the use of players he is expecting to be major contributors, while at the same time getting them enough work to be prepared for the regular season.
The Raiders took the pads off Wednesday for the first time since July 27 to freshen up before an actual game.
"We're going to be smart about it, but things happen in the game of football," Allen said. "I'm a firm believer that to get ready for the regular season, you've got to work, so those guys will play."
The exhibition opener is a baby step in this year's "no excuses" theme as espoused by owner Mark Davis after back-to-back 4-12 seasons when the roster was limited because of the lack of salary cap space following the housecleaning of bloated contracts.
"What's been done here in the past is unacceptable and we need to win some football games," Allen said. "We're all in on that philosophy."
Minnesota was 5-10-1 last season, finishing last in the NFC North. Former Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer makes his head coaching debut, with former Raiders head coach Norv Turner as the offensive coordinator.
Star running back Adrian Peterson is not expected to play. Rookie first-round pick Teddy Bridgewater will get first-team reps against the Raiders, according to Zimmer.
The Vikings will play the 2014 and 2015 seasons at TCF Bank Stadium while their stadium is being built in downtown Minneapolis.
For more on the Raiders, visit the Inside the Oakland Raiders blog at ibabuzz.com/oaklandraiders.
5 p.m. KTVU
Five things to look for in Friday's preseason opener. PAGE 5