Durability remains a lingering unknown with Jimmy Garoppolo

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- For all the discussion about the future of New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and the team’s longer-term plans at the position with Tom Brady set to turn 40 on Aug. 3, one lingering unknown is Garoppolo’s durability.

This unknown was highlighted, in part, by what unfolded during the team’s voluntary organized team activity on Tuesday.

Garoppolo didn’t take part in drills because of what appears to be a leg-related injury. When players ran at the start of practice, Garoppolo rode the exercise bike instead. When players ran hills at the end of practice, Garoppolo was off to the side with a few others holding a plank.

If this was the regular season, he might have pushed through it. Since it is June, playing it safe is the smart call, which is important context.

The injury appeared to happen at last week’s mandatory minicamp, as Garoppolo didn’t finish in the team’s final practice of the week and then didn’t run with teammates afterward (more planks). So third-stringer Jacoby Brissett stepped into the No. 2 spot in that practice and has continued in that role this week.

When considering Garoppolo’s future -- and how the Patriots and other teams might value him in either a trade or as an unrestricted free agent after the season -- durability is likely going to be part of the analysis.

It came up in casual conversations with scouts this offseason, some of whom pointed out that Garoppolo has many impressive traits but there were also only six regular-season quarters to evaluate in 2016 before he sustained a right shoulder injury on a hit by Miami Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso in Week 2. The injury occurred on a third-and-9 completion for 15 yards that was only possible because Garoppolo kept the play alive by backpedaling and then firing a strike to receiver Malcolm Mitchell. In doing so, he left himself vulnerable to injury as Alonso closed on him and drove Garoppolo's right throwing shoulder into the ground.

By the time Garoppolo was ready to return, so too was Brady from a four-game NFL suspension. Garoppolo only played 31 snaps the rest of the season, all at the end of games when the outcome was well in hand.

As for this year, chances are good that Garoppolo will be on the field as a full participant when training camp starts in late July. No one is saying that being held out of a June OTA is any cause for concern.

But for a quarterback whose future is a hot-button topic and who is being evaluated as a possible franchise player by other teams despite a limited body of regular-season work, every little thing counts.