Potential is the reason the Patriots selected quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round of this year’s NFL draft, the organization’s highest pick at the position in more than two decades.
Thursday night, that potential has a chance to solidify Garoppolo as the backup quarterback to Tom Brady. The Patriots announced Monday that the rookie will start under center for their final preseason game against the New York Giants.
“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.”
And Garoppolo may have the entire game to put his repertoire on display.
According to a report from NFL.com, the Patriots may hold out Ryan Mallett from Thursday’s contest. The move will afford New England a good long look at Garoppolo as the quarterback market around the league begins to take shape.
A team source said Garoppolo would play most of Thursday’s game, possibly all of it.
Garoppolo has made significant strides in recent weeks after struggling through OTAs and the start of training camp. The rookie out of Eastern Illinois has passed for 334 yards and four touchdowns with a completion percentage of 65 percent in three exhibition games.
The turnaround seemed to hinge on the Aug. 7 contest against Washington, when Garoppolo burned the Redskin defense for 157 yards and a touchdown on 9-of-13 passing in his first professional game.
Citing that performance as “a big building block,” Garoppolo continued to turn heads with a two-touchdown performance against Philadelphia Aug. 15.
Garoppolo played the majority of the second half last Friday against the Carolina Panthers, throwing for 105 yards and a touchdown in a 30-7 victory.
Conversely, Mallett ran the offense for only one series at the end of the first quarter Friday. He completed 2 of 3 passes for 14 yards before New England settled for a 47-yard field goal.
Having started the game under center, Tom Brady returned for the ensuing possession and orchestrated the offense through the first series of the third quarter before Garoppolo took the reins.
Garoppolo displayed genuine excitement when talking about his first professional start, but considering his experience, he was quick to temper the expectations.
“I’m still a rookie, so I have a long way to go, a lot to learn still,” Garoppolo said. “That playbook is pretty thick.”
Brian Tyms has been losing sleep, but it’s not the looming roster cuts that worry the wide receiver, who already has been cut three times since entering the league out of Florida A&M in 2012. Instead, Tyms is trading Z’s for X’s and O’s.
“I don’t sleep a lot,” he said. “I’m really trying to catch up because there’s a lot of stuff I missed in OTAs and a lot of film that I’ve missed that I’ve got to catch up to.”
The 6-foot-3-inch Tyms signed with the Patriots July 27, shortly after the start of training camp. He is set to serve a four-game suspension for testing positive for Adderall once the season starts, but he hopes his dedication opens a spot for him when he can return in Week 5.
“I love it here,” he said. “[The Patriots] gave me a chance to show them what I can do and consistently keep throwing back to me no matter what quarterback I’m in with, and I really appreciate everybody for that.”
The Patriots practiced in full pads Monday and saw the return of rookie Cameron Gordon, Michael Hoomanawanui, Sealver Siliga, and Sebastian Vollmer. Vollmer missed all of last week with a wrist injury, while Siliga’s wrist injury had sidelined him since joint practices with Washington earlier this month . . . Four players were absent: Chris Jones, Chris Martin, Ben Bass, and Tyler Gaffney . . . The Patriots released rookie tight end Justin Jones for the second time this summer.Ben Volin of the Globe staff contributed to this report.