Rivera: Hardy a go for Lions game

Greg Hardy's Domestic Violence Charge (2:54)

Steve Delsohn reports the details surrounding the domestic violence charge against Panthers DE Greg Hardy. (2:54)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was back at practice Thursday and is set to start in Sunday's home opener against Detroit.

Hardy was excused from Wednesday's practice to meet with his attorney, Chris Fialko, who is representing him in his domestic violence case. Coach Ron Rivera said Hardy looked good and was a go for Detroit. The 2013 Pro Bowl selection was not made available to address the media during the open locker room period.

Exactly why Hardy had to miss one of the biggest practices of the week the day after an off day to meet with his attorney remains somewhat of a mystery. There was speculation there may have been a planned meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who was in North Carolina for two other events. According to sources, there was no such meeting.

There also was public speculation by a Charlotte radio show host that Hardy was working on a plea bargain to pre-empt his scheduled Nov. 17 appeal of a July 15 guilty verdict for assaulting and threatening ex-girlfriend Nicole Holder in May.

Asked directly if he could say whether he expected Hardy to be with the team in the foreseeable future, Rivera said, "I can't [say], just because it's in the [legal] process. Whatever happens, happens. We'll keep going until something changes."

Rivera said he did not see team owner Jerry Richardson's emotional speech against domestic violence on Wednesday night, when the 78-year-old founder of the team received the Echo Award Against Indifference. Richardson came to tears and had to stop several times to gather himself when addressing critics that have said he's been too lenient on Hardy while the case is under appeal.

"Standing before you tonight, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge an issue weighing heavily on our sport and our society," Richardson said. "When it comes to domestic violence, my stance is not one of indifference. I stand firmly against domestic violence, plain and simple."

Rivera said he's not surprised Richardson got emotional, saying the owner has addressed domestic violence and a lot of other issues with the team in the past.

"He's very direct and very forward with everybody about how he feels about situations," Rivera said. "He's put it very straightforward."

Rivera called Richardson a "very sincere man." He said he's addressed the situation that has become magnified since Monday's release of video showing then-Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice hitting his then-fiancée and now wife in an Atlantic City elevator in February.

"The only thing I told the players is this is a very difficult situation, a very unfortunate situation," Rivera said. "[I told them] the best thing to do is be careful with what's out there and let's try to keep focused on what we need to do."

Center Ryan Kalil also didn't see Richardson's speech, but he's heard the message before.

"That's not the first time he's made mention of that," Kalil said. "It's an issue that is very serious to him. Honestly, [we need to] just worry about what we've got to worry about, and that's playing football. Everybody has their opinions about how they feel about what's happened in the NFL and what's going on.

"You can only do what you can control. For us, it's staying close as a team, it's appreciating the decision-makers and the guys that are doing their job to handle those different situations, and honestly for us to just play our best football."