Heinicke, 24, signed with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent out of Old Dominion in 2015. He made Minnesota’s roster but was inactive for every game.
The Vikings placed him on the non-football injury list with an ankle injury to start 2016, and he re-joined the roster in November.
Minnesota waived Heinicke with an injury settlement after the 2017 preseason. He joined the Patriots’ practice squad on Sept. 22 before New England waived him Oct. 10. He signed with Houston on Nov. 29 after Deshaun Watson was lost for the season.
“I like a lot of things about him,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said, via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. “I think he’s smart. I think he’s an accurate passer. I think he makes good decisions, so far in practice. I think he’s picked up our system pretty well so far. I think he’s mobile. He can make plays on his own. So there’s a lot of things I like.”
Yates becomes the third quarterback to start for the Texans this season. Tom Savage will sit out at least this week’s game while recovering from a concussion.