FOXBOROUGH -- Rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will get his first NFL start when the New England Patriots visit the New York Giants for Thursday night's preseason finale.
"It's a good opportunity to get out there and get some quality reps, so it's going to be fun," Garoppolo said Monday at practice.
Garoppolo, who has played well in three preseason games, likely will play a good portion of the game amid talk that incumbent backup Ryan Mallett may be traded.
Garoppolo, the 62nd pick out of Eastern Illinois, is 24 for 37 for 334 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in the first three games. He hasn't faced first-teamers -- and probably won't see many Thursday night -- but he has looked poised and controlled during his time on the field.
Mallett, a backup the past three seasons, started the preseason opener and didn't play well. He was the first to relieve starter Tom Brady in last week's game against the Carolina Panthers and looked better. He is 14 for 26 for 161 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.
Garoppolo, who has taken 81 snaps, has a 129.8 quarterback rating, while Mallett, who has handled 75 reps, is at 85.6.
Coach Bill Belichick did not have a press conference Monday and will be available Tuesday.
As far as reasons for his success in camp, Garoppolo said, "Just getting in rhythm with the offense. I've got a great group of guys around me, who have really made my job a lot easier, so ... week in and week out, improving, and if you do that it makes your job a lot easier.
Garoppolo struggled in camp workouts but looked much better as soon as the games started.
"That's part of being a rookie," he said. "Each day, you keep improving and learning the system that much more, things will just slow down naturally for you.
"[The Washington game] was a big building block. Going from there -- it's one of those things you're going to have your ups and downs being a rookie, that's just part of the game. You have to just keep gradually improving day in and day out."
Asked if it matters to him whether he starts or comes off the bench in these games, Garoppolo said, "It's the opportunity that matters. As long as you get an opportunity and take advantage of that, just showcase what you can do with the players around you. That's all you can really ask for."
And through this whole process, he has been learning from one of the best in Tom Brady.
"Just the way he carries himself around the team, in meetings and everything," he said. "He really brings the best out of the guys around him. If you can do that, that's the best thing a quarterback can do, I think."
NOTES: The Patriots released veteran defensive players Tommy Kelly, Will Smith (both linemen) and James Anderson (linebacker) and rookie tight end Justin Jones. Kelly was a starter before getting hurt in the fifth game last year, and Smith missed all of last season in New Orleans with knee surgery. Anderson was the Chicago Bears' leading tackler in 2013. Eight more cuts will be made by Tuesday to get down to 75. ... Wide receiver Brian Tyms, trying to make this team as a free agent, will play Thursday night before serving a four-game suspension for the use of prescription Adderall. He says he's been taking it since he was 9, but failed to notify the league.