Megatron has been minimized in the Detroit Lions’ offense in recent weeks, but Calvin Johnson said any suggestion he’s on the decline is off base.

Johnson is on pace to finish with fewer than 1,000 yards receiving for the first time since 2009, but he said he’s no different a player than he was when he set the NFL single-season record for receiving yards two years ago.

“Same guy,” Johnson said Tuesday.

With five games left, including this week’s must-win Thanksgiving matchup against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field, Johnson has 38 catches for 578 yards.

His lack of production – he doesn’t rank among the top-40 receivers in either category – is one reason the Lions have slumped to 28th in the NFL in points. But coaches and teammates insist those numbers tell only part of the story.

“I think that the biggest thing you can kind of just take a look at is – does he still run by people?” Coach Jim Caldwell said. “The answer to that would be yes. Is he still able to lay out, catch the ball and do things that he normally does? Yes. And I think that that’s what matters.”

Though Johnson’s numbers are down from the past few years – he had at least 1,400 yards receiving in each of the 2011-13 seasons – opponents still treat him with fear.

Since returning from a sprained ankle that cost him three October games and limited him in two others, Johnson has faced three of the NFL’s top defenses and been challenged in different ways.

Last week, the New England Patriots had their No. 2 cornerback, Brandon Browner, shadow Johnson all game and played a safety over the top for help most of the day. When Johnson lined up as the only receiver, the Patriots used top cornerback Darrelle Revis (who single-covered Golden Tate most of the day) in coverage. Johnson finished with four catches for 58 yards.

Two weeks ago, Arizona deployed a dime defense and Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson to limit Johnson to five catches and 59 yards.

And in a Nov. 9 win over the Miami Dolphins, Johnson caught seven passes for 113 yards against an array of coverages. A big chunk of those yards – 49 – came on a long touchdown pass against Brent Grimes when safety Louis Delmas was late with help, and Matthew Stafford missed on eight of the 15 passes he threw Johnson’s way.

Johnson admits he’s still dealing with some soreness in his ankle, but Bears Coach Marc Trestman said Johnson is the same playmaker he always has been.

“We have the same things coming off with our guys, too,” Trestman said. “We’ve had a lot of missed practice time, a lot of leg injuries as well. So we understand that, but we also know that when he’s out there great things can happen, and we’ve got to be prepared for that.”

There’s no doubt Johnson’s ankle injury has affected his play, but he’s put up monster numbers in the face of various ailments before.

Johnson didn’t practice for most of the 2012 season because of knee, ankle and finger injuries, but he still broke Jerry Rice’s record with 1,964 yards. Last year, he finished second to Josh Gordon in receiving yards despite missing two games, then underwent finger and knee surgeries in the offseason.

At 29, Johnson is at an age when many big receivers experience drop-offs, but teammate Brandon Pettigrew said it’s ridiculous to suggest Johnson has lost a step.

“Calvin Johnson is still the best receiver in the league in my eyes and a lot of people’s eyes, not just on this team,” he said.

Stafford agreed, casually naming Tate, who has a career-high 72 catches for 1,047 yards this year, “our second-best receiver,” and saying it’s incumbent upon him to get Johnson the ball.

“I think defenses obviously are keying in on him,” Stafford said. “He’s the best receiver in the league and they know that, but it’s on me to just throw him better balls and make sure we’re on the same page.”