Sanders hurt a knee late in a game at New England in Week 2. He was inactive last Sunday against Kansas City. The Chargers signed him in the offseason after he was released by the Indianapolis Colts.
"From the standpoint of where his knee is, it was a decision that was the right one," coach Norv Turner said. "When you make a decision like this, it's based on medical facts first and included our feelings and his. I know that it was going to be difficult for him to continue. I've had a number of conversations with Bob over the last few days. This is difficult for him. I'm very respectful of what he tried to do for us and I wish his impact would've lasted longer.
"It's not something anyone could've anticipated. It's something that just happens."
Coming into this season, Sanders missed the equivalent of four full seasons due to injuries. He was the 2007 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Meanwhile, star tight end Antonio Gates said prolonged rest appears to be the only way to allow the painful plantar fasciitis in his right foot to heal.
"This is the only solution I haven't tried yet," said Gates, who was slowed by the injury last season. "I've done whatever it is you can imagine to help this problem. At this point rest is the only thing that's left to try and get this thing healed."
Gates missed Sunday's game against Kansas City and it's doubtful he'll play in Sunday's home game against Miami.
"I don't want to make any projections. It's tough to gauge. I mean, I wasn't supposed to have any problems at this point. It was supposed to be gone five months ago, but somehow it's still lingering on. It's still an uphill battle. Whenever I feel great, or when the pain is tolerable, is when I'm going to get out there.
"I feel fine walking around. I wake up feeling fine. It only messes with me now, when I go and play. It's just a step back in the progression. You tear scar tissue, you take time off, then you come back and hopefully come back stronger than you were before. Then the process starts all over again."
Gates said he's heard from any number of people on how to treat the injury.
"It's crazy how many people give me advice on this foot thing," he said. "It's the same thing. It's a nagging issue, but the positive reinforcement is that people say it's minor compared to other injuries that I've been through and played with. It's still an issue of pain, which comes and goes without warning. Until it's all gone, it's going to be one of those deals.
"All I can do is stay in it mentally. The tough part is that I get paid to stay in it physically. I want to do everything I can to get out there and let my physical ability help this team win."
Gates saw a specialist earlier in the week.
"I don't think there's anything a specialist is going to tell him," Turner said. "There's therapy and there's things he can do to help him get better. Nothing is going to be an overnight cure.
"We know Antonio extremely well, so we have to have part of the plan assuming he'll be ready to play and part of the plan that does not include him. Until he's able to practice some, he's not going to be able to play at a level he wants. He really wants to practice and prepare and establish a routine he's used to, so that, when he does play, he's playing at a high level."
Gates didn't practice Wednesday. Also sitting out were defensive end Jacques Cesaire (knee), who's not expected back until after the bye week; wideouts Malcom Floyd (groin) and Vincent Jackson (abdomen); and cornerback Quentin Jammer (hamstring).