IRVING -- The youth movement that has been the story of the Dallas Cowboys' preseason continued when final cuts were announced Saturday.
Veteran defensive end Igor Olshansky was among 26 players cut as the Cowboys pared their roster to the NFL limit of 53.
Add the release of fullback Chris Gronkowski, and the Cowboys have cut seven starters this off-season off last year's 6-10 team.
Guard Leonard Davis, running back Marion Barber, receiver Roy Williams and tackle Marc Colombo were cut before training camp. Center Andre Gurode was cut Monday.
But the big surprise Saturday was the release of two veteran kickers signed in the last couple weeks, handing the kicking duties to rookie Dan Bailey and third-year kickoff specialist David Buehler.
Bailey and Buehler battled for the first month of training camp, but neither showed enough consistency to distinguish himself, prompting the Cowboys to sign Shayne Graham two weeks ago and Dave Rayner last week.
Graham, third all-time in NFL field-goal percentage, wasn't good on kickoffs and ultimately cost too much. Rayner blew his chance with misses of 51 and 36 yards in the preseason finale.
The Cowboys decided they couldn't live without Buehler on kickoffs. He was inconsistent on field goals while handling all the kicking chores last season.
They will go with the unproven Bailey on field goals and extra points. The Lou Groza Award winner at Oklahoma State last season was up and down in camp, but he came on strong at the end. He made both of his attempts (37, 41 yards) in the preseason.
Doing it in the season opener at the New York Jets will be a different deal.
But the Cowboys are gambling on youth.
Just ask Olshansky, a seven-year veteran who started 28 of Dallas' last 30 games but was demoted to second string in training camp behind free agent signee Kenyon Coleman.
Olshansky's $3.3 million base salary was too steep for a backup. The beneficiaries are second-year end Sean Lissemore and promising Clifton Geathers, who made the team along with defensive linemen Coleman, Marcus Spears, Jay Ratliff, Josh Brent and Jason Hatcher.
Gronkowski has had a target on his back since last season when his missed block resulted in a season-ending injury to Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo.
The Cowboys drafted Shaun Chapas to provide an alternative. But Chapas was cut as well.
There are no fullbacks on the roster. The Cowboys will make up for that with four tight ends, as Martin Rucker made the team along with John Phillips, Martellus Bennett and starter Jason Witten.
It was a day of joy for receiver Jesse Holley, who has gone from reality show survivor to NFL player.
Holley earned a Cowboys tryout in 2009 by winning Michael Irvin's 4th and Long reality show and was put on the practice squad. He made the practice squad again last year, then was called up to the team because of injuries.
This season Holley will be the team's fourth receiver and likely one of its top special teams players.
Rookie running back Phillip Tanner, from Dallas Kimball High School, realized a dream by making his hometown team. The undrafted free agent from Middle Tennessee State was one of the surprises of training camp. He played his way onto the roster, prompting the Cowboys into the unusual position of keeping four running backs: Tanner, Felix Jones, Tashard Choice and DeMarco Murray.
Other notable cuts include safety Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, a fourth-round pick in 2010; former Texas Tech and Fort Worth South Hills linebacker Brandon Williams, a fourth-round pick in 2009; and cornerback Josh Thomas, a fifth-round pick in 2011.
Receiver Raymond Radway was placed on injured reserve. Radway was on the verge of making the team before breaking his leg in the final seconds of preseason finale.
This won't necessarily be the final roster for next Sunday night's season opener at the Jets. The Cowboys will scan the waiver wire the next two days looking for upgrades.
Some of the released players could be put on the practice squad if they clear waivers.