Sports

Steelers GM rips Le'Veon Bell for camp holdout

'It hurts him not to be here,' Colbert says

Star running back Le'Veon Bell is only hurting himself with his holdout, Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Bell, who has yet to sign his $12.12 million franchise tender, can't be fined for his absence from training camp because he doesn't have a contract. The 25-year-old isn't allowed to receive a long-term deal this season because the deadline for tagged players passed on July 17.

"My feeling is there's nothing to be gained by a holdout," Colbert said Wednesday. "The situation won't change; it can't really change from our part on a long-term deal.

"So it hurts him not to be here. It hurts him because he's not working with his teammates, he's not getting the conditioning work that he's going to need to have a great 2017 season. And he's not working with his teammates to get acclimated to the offense -- every year it's different."

DeAngelo Williams took up for his fellow running back by voicing his displeasure on Twitter.

"Wow he really said that!" Williams wrote. "Please explain to me how because when he gets back he will be the freshest body out there with his skillset #wrong"

The Steelers can tag the versatile Bell for the second straight season in 2018 at $14.54 million or re-sign him.

The franchise tag still has Bell as the league's highest-paid tailback in 2017, with LeSean McCoy of the Buffalo Bills the next closest in per-year salary. McCoy averages $8 million on his five-year deal.

Bell, who is recovering from groin surgery, aggravated the injury that kept him on the sideline for the majority of last season's AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots.

The Steelers rode Bell to the playoffs in 2016. He rushed for 1,268 yards and seven touchdowns in 12 games and caught 75 passes for another 616 yards and two scores during the regular season, becoming the first player in NFL history to average 100 rushing yards and 50 receiving yards per game.

Bell set franchise rushing records in the first two playoff games. He racked up 167 yards in a victory over Miami in the AFC wild-card round and bettered that with 170 in the victory over Kansas City in the divisional round.


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