- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots will start rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in their final preseason game against the New York Giants on Thursday, coach Bill Belichick confirmed to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter through a team spokesman.
Furthermore, Garoppolo is expected to play the majority, if not all, of the game, according to Schefter, as the Patriots seek more clarity on the No. 2 job behind Tom Brady.
"I'm excited about it," Garoppolo said. "It's a good opportunity to get out there and get some quality reps. It's going to be fun."
Garoppolo, the team's second-round pick (62nd overall) out of Eastern Illinois, has been competing with four-year veteran Ryan Mallett for top backup duties. Through three preseason games, Garoppolo has played 81 snaps while Mallett has played 75, followed by Brady's 64.
The rookie has been mostly impressive this preseason, going 24 of 37 for 334 yards, with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
In addition to more reps for Garoppolo, Belichick said the rookie quarterback will see what it's like to be a starter.
"It's just an experience that he needs to go through -- to feel like he's going to start the game [and] he's going to be in the game for every situation -- second down, third down, goal-line, red area, two-minute, whatever it is, he has to be prepared for everything and handle whatever it is that comes up," Belichick said Monday during his weekly appearance on sports radio station WEEI in Boston.
Belichick often says that a quarterback's job is to move the ball and score points, and Garoppolo has shown the ability to do so while featuring a quick release and displaying poise in the pocket. In the team's Week 2 preseason game against the Eagles, for example, he entered in the first quarter ahead of Mallett and promptly led two touchdown drives.
Meanwhile, Mallett started the team's Week 1 preseason game at Washington, a game in which he turned in an uneven performance, and played the entire second half of the Week 2 game against the Eagles.
In Friday's preseason win over the Panthers, Mallett entered on the third series of the game, with Belichick later explaining he wanted to create a situation that could present itself during the regular season for whoever assumes the No. 2 role. Mallett directed the Patriots on a seven-play, 22-yard march that culminated in a field goal.
Mallett, a 2011 third-round draft choice (74th overall) who's entering the final year of his contract, has been the team's top backup quarterback the last two seasons. He is 14 of 26 for 161 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions this preseason.
In May, Belichick told Sirius XM NFL Radio that he was pleased with the team's quarterback depth.
"That's not a good position to not feel good about," he said at the time. "We feel very good about the players we have at that spot."
1dEric D. Williams