The Lions exited last season lamenting the lack of big plays from their defense.

They’ll enter this season wondering more about their playmakers on offense even after routing the New England Patriots 40-9 at Ford Field.

Or maybe they won’t. You might have questions about this offense — and I certainly do too — but the Lions didn’t seem overly concerned after Thursday night’s performance. Certainly not the way they were a week ago after an awful performance at Cleveland.

“I’m OK with what we did out there” receiver Nate Burleson said. “There’s always room for improvement. But I joked about it with the guys afterward. We put up points moved the ball every receiver caught a pass and LeBron (James) didn’t even suit up today.”

That would be Calvin Johnson of course. The All-Pro receiver went through pregame warm-ups Thursday but was inactive for a second consecutive week resting a bruised knee. And even in the exhibition season it’s impossible to ignore his absence because opposing defenses certainly don’t.

“Without having the full playbook in and without having the best receiver in the world in that changes the game” said Burleson who readily admits he’s no LeBron even though he was out there running Johnson’s routes Thursday. “Not only will Calvin be a big-time target in the red zone but most of the time he’s attracting two or three guys. There’s gonna be a lot of things that look a lot different when the big boy is out there.”

There better be though to be fair the offense did get another jolt from Reggie Bush who flashed his game-changing ability with a 67-yard reception on a screen play in the first quarter. And the Lions’ first-team offense finally did score a touchdown. They also played a third straight turnover-free game and led 16-3 at the half against Tom Brady and the Patriots prompting quarterback Matthew Stafford to shrug afterward “We’re moving in the right direction.”

But it took them 11 possessions to score their first TD this exhibition season and it was the only one Stafford & Co. could manage on this night despite the defense forcing four first-half turnovers.