"My feeling is there's nothing to be gained by a holdout," Colbert told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on 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," he continued. "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."
Bell, 25, has not attended any offseason workouts or training camp, likely due to displeasure over being franchise-tagged. The Steelers have no recourse to fine or suspend Bell because he is not yet technically under contract.
Because they missed the deadline for a long-term contract, Bell will have to play out the 2017 season at the franchise figure of $12.1 million or negotiate a different one-year deal. The two sides could agree to a clause that does not allow the team to franchise him again in 2018, but it doesn't appear Colbert is planning to negotiate.
"Really, a holdout does not benefit him in any way," Colbert said. "So, again, I hope that he sees the benefits of being here and comes in here sooner than later."
The Steelers have been using rookie James Conner and Fitzgerald Toussaint as their primary running backs early in practice, though Conner suffered a shoulder injury that briefly held him out, according to Lorenzo Reyes of USA Today. Toussaint is considered their "starter" at this point but is mostly keeping the seat warm until the Bell-Conner duo can get things going.