The NFL thought Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy’s hit on former Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer last season was deserving of a penalty flag and a $25000 fine.

But the guy who sustained cracked ribs and a bruised lung on the play said Hardy’s hit was clean.

“I do definitely remember it and I probably won’t forget it” Palmer said Wednesday during a conference call with Charlotte media. “He got me good. I gave him an opportunity to get me. I don’t think it should have been a flag. Those kind of hits now just because they look pretty gruesome get flagged. But it was a legal hit and my own fault for not getting rid of the football.”

Palmer the Cardinals quarterback who will face the Panthers again this week in Arizona was dropped late in the first quarter on a blind-side hit from Hardy after rolling out of the pocket stopping and setting his feet to throw.

Hardy had a running start when he hit Palmer in the lower back and was called for unnecessary roughness for leading with his head. Palmer left the game and missed the Raiders’ season finale the following week.

“I remember looking up on the big screen inside that stadium and it didn’t look too good” Palmer said. “It looked good for him bad for me.”

Panthers safety Mike Mitchell who was with the Raiders the past four seasons was uncertain whether it was a legal play.

“He rocked him. I don’t know if he hit him with the crown of the helmet. But just looking at it it looked like a violent football play” Mitchell said. “But the way they’re calling the game now if it’s too hard they’re calling a penalty no matter where you hit him anyway.”

Hardy coming off a three-sack game against the Giants missed Wednesday’s practice after showing up at the stadium with a fever. Panthers coach Ron Rivera said the training staff sent Hardy home with medicine and hopes to have him back Thursday.

CHASE THE LEADER AT LB: Rivera indicated he is sticking with Chase Blackburn as the starter at weakside linebacker. Blackburn started over veteran Jon Beason against the Giants in part because of Blackburn’s knowledge of his former team.

But Rivera said Beason is still not 100 percent after injuries limited him to five games in 2011 and 2012. Beason said recently he’s still dealing with pain after microfracture surgery on his right knee last fall.

“We’re working them both. Right now Chase has got the lead and I think a big part of it is Chase is a little more comfortable at it right now” Rivera said. “I think Jon’s going to continue to work and get himself back to football shape. It’s been pretty much two years since he’s really had opportunities. So we’ll work with Chase and Jon will get opportunities as well.”