Rivera says Greg Hardy should be reinstated if trial postponed

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera personally believes Pro Bowl defensive end Greg Hardy should be reinstated by the NFL if his domestic violence trial is rescheduled for after the season.

A league source told ESPN.com on Thursday that Hardy’s case would be postponed from its Nov. 17 date. A source told ESPN’s Ed Werder that Hardy would seek reinstatement.

Hardy was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list before the third game until his case was resolved.

Rivera said on Friday the team has not been officially notified that the trial will be postponed, saying he’s heard unofficially it would be moved, and he's also heard that it wouldn't be moved.

According to court records, the trial remains on the docket for Nov. 17.

Rivera said because Hardy has been on the exempt list for six games -- which would be the punishment if found guilty on a domestic violence charge -- the 2013 sack leader should be allowed back if the trial is moved to 2015.

“In so many words, yes,’’ he said. “If things had all transpired and gone a certain way, then his availability might be now.’’

The biggest difference is had Hardy, guaranteed $13.1 million this season when Carolina used the franchise tag on him, been suspended he would not have been paid. He has drawn $770,000 weekly while out.

Hardy was arrested and charged with assaulting and threatening ex-girlfriend Nicole Holder in May. He was found guilty by a Mecklenburg county judge on July 15, and then appealed the verdict.

Under North Carolina law, that sets aside the verdict.

The Panthers (3-5-1) are off until a Nov. 10 Monday night game at Philadelphia.

Without Hardy, Carolina has gone from the league’s second-ranked defense in 2013 to No. 21 before Thursday’s loss 28-10 loss to New Orleans that left the Panthers 1-5-1 over the past seven games.

Rivera admitted it’s been tough adjusting without Hardy because the team spent the entire offseason and preseason scheming with the idea they would have the player that had 15 sacks last season available.

“It affects a lot, because of who he is,’’ Rivera said. “He’s a guy that plays [four different positions]. He also plays in what we call a rebel package where he’s also a standup linebacker where we can get into some 3-4 stuff.

“But we don’t have him. These are all things, you go through OTAs, mini-camps and training camp and you work all these things, then all of a sudden you’re put in a different situation. That’s been hard.’’

But Rivera wouldn’t use that as an excuse for why the defense has been inconsistent.

“We’ve had opportunities that we haven’t taken advantage of,’’ he said. “But Greg always was part of what we planned out going forward. Things kind of suddenly happened and put us in a different situation.

“We’ve got to adapt to those now.’’