ALAMEDA -- Dennis Allen is the happiest, cheeriest, most galvanized Raiders coach I've seen since ...

Well, geez, I can't really think of any truly happy Raiders coach, at least not for the last 10 years or so.

(I'm not counting Hue Jackson's rambunctious reign, because his moods went beyond all normal emotional measurements.)

Of course Allen himself wasn't nearly this gleeful in his previous two seasons as Raiders coach -- at times, to tell the truth, he was deservedly defensive.

But as the Raiders wrapped up their three-day minicamp Thursday, Allen looked so enthused by this new-look roster that he seemed to float from drill to drill.

Asked afterward if he could sense how much his team has improved just by standing in the middle of a practice, Allen practically radiated the happy vibes.

"I don't think there's any question you can feel that," Allen said. "You guys have been around here, too. I think you've seen these practices here for a while. I think we've had an outstanding offseason."

He's right. Anybody who watched those dismal Raiders practices and position groups in the past can tell that they're moving with an extra pep these days.

It doesn't mean they're guaranteed to do much better than the 4-12 records under Allen the past two seasons, but it means the coach feels better about the entire process.

Basically, Year 1 of the Allen/Reggie McKenzie tenure was about getting a fix on the trouble they were in and starting the teardown.

Year 2 was dealing with the bare-bones roster, gritting through the last year of the salary-cap crunch and trying to establish a base structure.

Now this is the start of Year 3, when they've added a bunch of players who fit the Allen/McKenzie archetype and are aiming for a big push.

Oh and yes, Allen and McKenzie will undoubtedly need a big push up the standings to guarantee a Year 4 of this era.

For now, the result is tangibly impressive:

The Raiders have two new quarterbacks (Matt Schaub and Derek Carr) who are better than anybody they had last year; Khalil Mack, a rookie linebacker with immense potential; interesting new defensive backs; and bigger, faster players on both lines.

So I asked defensive lineman Justin Tuck, what do you think about the quality of this roster?

"Very talented," said Tuck, who won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants before signing with the Raiders in March. "But we haven't put on pads yet. So that's when you figure out if guys can play football."

It's fair to point out -- as I have -- that most of these additions are middle-aged players who might be on the downside of their careers.

But when you look at the field and see Tuck, LaMarr Woodley, Schaub, Carr, Donald Penn and especially Mack ... you see a different Raiders team from 2013.

You can understand why Allen is so thrilled, and why he can't wait for the start of training camp in a month.

"I think our guys are battling, they're competing, they're working extremely hard," Allen said. "We've accomplished a lot in this offseason."

On Thursday, with a month-long NFL vacation set to start, the Raiders didn't at all lollygag through this practice. They worked at a fast pace, they communicated to each other, and they bounded from drill to drill with some amount of palpable energy.

There were some good plays by the offense -- particularly throws over the middle by Schaub.

And some good plays by the defense -- particularly when Mack was involved or when the ball was thrown within reach of the young Raiders defensive backs.

There is one big problem: cornerback D.J. Hayden, the first-round draft pick in 2013, missed the entire minicamp with an ankle issue, just as he missed most of the last offseason after surgery to remove scar tissue on his abdomen.

"Yeah, I don't think there's any way you can sugarcoat that -- he's behind," Allen said of Hayden. "But like I said the other day it's nothing that he can't overcome. He needs to be healthy and he needs to be out here and he needs to work. We'll see where he's at when we go to training camp."

That's just about the only sour note, and even then, Allen said it with a shrug, not a scowl.

This is his kind of roster, with his kinds of players. And while it's far from perfect, it sure beats that depressing assemblage the Raiders and Allen ran out there for the past two years.

Read Tim Kawakami's Talking Points blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami. Contact him at tkawakami@mercurynews.com.

Allen
In Year 3, Raiders coach finally has his type of players. Now he has to win.