Steelers GM: 'Beneficial' for Le'Veon Bell to be in camp

The Pittsburgh Steelers still don't know when running back Le'Veon Bell will show up for work, but it hasn't stopped the team from imploring him to return.

In an interview with ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, general manager Kevin Colbert reiterated the team's desire for Bell to report to camp.

"It's beneficial for everybody to be in camp," Colbert said. "I'll argue that consistently. Training camp is important for the growth and preparedness to be ready to play this game opening week. We can argue about camp and preseason, how many games and all that, but I do know you need to practice this game to play it at the highest level. Someone once said it would be like boxing without sparring. You can't just show up and play."

Since the Steelers and Bell couldn't agree on a long-term contract before the franchise-tag deadline last month, the running back has stayed away from team activities while training in South Florida.

Bell has given no indication when he'll report, but the best guess among reporters is late August. The Steelers can't fine Bell for skipping camp or preseason games because he hasn't signed his $12.1 million franchise tender.

Colbert didn't indicate to Fowler if the team is considering to rescind the tag. The GM added, however, that the Steelers don't "box anybody" into a price tag when it comes to worth. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported last month the Steelers' offer on a long-term deal included more than $12 million per year. Bell is looking for more than that figure as Pittsburgh's No. 1 running back and second-leading receiver last year.

The sides can't discuss a new long-term contract until after the season.

"Right now we're worried about 2017; that's all we can focus on," Colbert said. "We've said it in the past -- we want Le'Veon to have a great NFL career as a Pittsburgh Steeler. That hasn't changed. In reality, all we're dealing with is 2017."

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