- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When the New England Patriots traded quarterback Ryan Mallett to the Houston Texans on Sunday, it answered one of the lingering questions for the team at the end of the preseason: Who would be the top backup behind Tom Brady?
Second-round draft choice Jimmy Garoppolo won the job, which he was still absorbing when approached in the locker room Monday.
“It hasn’t really sunk in,” he said.
Garoppolo was balancing the excitement of earning the job with the short-term goals of the team, which are preparations for the regular-season opener in Miami on Sunday.
“We’re on the Dolphins right now. It’s one of those things, the game goes on,” Garoppolo said. “We just have to be ready for the Dolphins and prepare like it’s a normal week for us.”
Asked what it means to have the vote of confidence from the coaching staff, Garoppolo said, “It always helps, giving you confidence. But it’s one of those things, you have to have confidence in yourself and if you don’t have that, you don’t have anything really. …
“I feel confident, but I have a long way to go still. I’m still a rookie, still have a lot to learn, the whole playbook, defenses and everything.”
Looking back on the preseason, Garoppolo’s confidence started to rise after his performance in the opener Aug. 7 against Washington.
“I don’t know if everything changed for me, but it was definitely a stepping stone,” he said of that game. “It gave me some confidence and got me ready for everything else that came after it.
“I thought [the preseason] was good. It was a good first experience. Training camp, overall, went well. We’re on to the season now and these are the games that really count. Everything steps up a notch really.”